CONTACT: Colin Williams (404) 275-4997 firstname.lastname@example.org www.ATLsymphonymusicians.com
Atlanta Symphony Musicians Offer $2.8 Million
to Close Budget Gap Administration Challenged to Match Musicians’ Compensation Cuts
Atlanta, GA, August 15, 2012 7:00 PM
Today the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Committee (ASOPA) met with members of the Atlanta Symphony Management negotiating team to come to terms for a new collective bargaining agreement.
ASOPA offered a comprehensive proposal which includes enough modification in musician compensation to cover the orchestra’s projected shortfall for the 2012-13 season and extended them for a second year as well.
“We have offered to reduce the size of the orchestra, reduce the individual compensation of musicians, reduce the number of work weeks, and share health care costs with management. Our comprehensive solution calls for the staff to share the reduction with us in the coming seasons to help stabilize the future of this great orchestra,” explained cellist and ASOPA President Daniel Laufer.
The musicians propose that total musician compensation and total staff compensation each be reduced by 11%. They specifically ask the senior staff members to share in this reduction from their individual salaries so as to avoid placing undue burden on junior and part-time staffers. This would save almost $5 million over two years.
“The significance of shared sacrifice cannot be overstated,” said Colin Williams, ASOPA spokesperson and principal trombonist. “This proposal represents a shared contribution to balance the budget.”
Recent statements by the management team suggest that growth in musician compensation is the primary reason for the deficit. “Since 2006, total staff compensationhas increased by almost 50%, while total musician compensation has only increased by 16%, just keeping up with inflation. This means that we must all play our part in reigning in costs,” explained Colin Williams.
Between 2006 and 2012, total staff compensation grew from about $4 million to $6 million, a 50% increase. This doesn't even include nearly $1 million in salaries/benefits for Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre staff, or a similar amount spent on salaries/benefits for the abandoned Symphony Center project in 2006 alone. Musician expenses are only 28% of the budget. Especially given the growth in staff compensation, musicians cannot be the sole source of cost reduction.
As part of this 50% increase in management compensation, management and staff received almost $400,000 in bonuses between 2008 and 2012. For example, according to the Woodruff Arts Center’s 2010 IRS Form 990, ASO Executive Vice President for Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer Don Fox was paid almost $300,000, including a $20,000 bonus, while deficits mounted. This represented a $30,000 increase over the previous year.
“Musicians are willing to be part of the solution. As of today we have put close to $3 million of musician cost reductions on the table, which address every aspect of what we do: salary, orchestra size, number of paid weeks, and cost sharing of health insurance. But we cannot be the only solution when staff have not participated in cost reductions and management has not presented any cogent plans to remedy the situation other than diminishing the product,” stressed Williams.
Colin Williams is available for interviews at the phone number and e-mail address above.