San Francisco Symphony quartet plays
for higher wages
By Brent Begin
January 23, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- A quartet of San Francisco Symphony
musicians played under the San Francisco City Hall rotunda today
at noon to protest stalled contract negotiations.
Dozens of passers by paused to listen to a rendition of Mozart's
"The Dissonant Quartet" as negotiators and musicians
made a case for higher wages and compensation packages.
The San Francisco Symphony musicians, part of Local Six of the
Musicians Union, have worked without a contract since Nov. 26,
2005, when the last one expired.
David Gaudry, a member of the negotiations committee, said salary,
seniority pay, and pension packages were at the bottom compared
with competing markets around the country like Los Angeles and
The three violinists and one cellist comprising the quartet wore
Cleveland Indians baseball hats along with formal attire to symbolize
the similarity between their wages and those of the Cleveland
San Francisco symphony musicians make $2,195 a week in base salary
and seniority wages while Cleveland's musicians make $2,230.
The San Francisco Symphony currently works with a $175 million
endowment funded by private donors and public funds such as the
San Francisco hotel tax.
The symphony had planned for a tour through China in early February,
but musicians said they would skip the tour if they did not reach
an agreement with symphony management.
"We are doing our best to find a solution that gives our
talented musicians a contract deserving of our stature as one
of the top orchestras in the country and also sets a prudent financial
course for the future of the orchestra," wrote Brent Assink,
the symphony's executive director, in an official statement.
But according to Gaudry, management had not committed to meeting
with negotiators. "We are making ourselves available, and
we're ready to work and do whatever we have to do to close the
deal," said Gaudry.
Among the crowd were several veteran San Francisco Symphony musicians.
"I was thrilled to join this world class orchestra,"
said Steven Dibner, a bassoonist who joined the San Francisco
Symphony 22 years ago.
"It's just a matter of fairness that they treat us as world
Dibner said the symphony currently has several open positions
including lead seats for clarinet, flute, viola, and horn, and
without competitive pay, the chances of landing the worlds top
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