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Musicians strike forces San Francisco Symphony to cancel tour

March 17, 2013 7:38:39 PM PDT
A scheduled East Coast tour was canceled Sunday after striking San Francisco Symphony musicians rejected a federal mediators proposal to resume playing concerts during a "cooling off" period, according to symphony officials.

The three-city East Coast tour, scheduled for March 20-23, had included performances at Carnegie Hall, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

The symphony has already canceled four concerts in San Francisco since musicians announced the strike on Wednesday.

The musicians said earlier this week that they were unhappy with a proposal by management that would include a pay freeze in the first year and 1 percent increases in the next two years.

Mjsicians say expensive instruments and the costs of living in the Bay Area hurt their ability to compete with other top orchestras. Symphony officials said today that their most recent proposal included a new minimum annual salary of $145,979 with annual increases of 1 percent and 2 percent.

The proposal also included a $74,000 maximum annual pension, 10 weeks paid vacation and full coverage health care plan options with no monthly premium contributions for most options. Additional compensation would include radio payments, over-scale and seniority pay, which raises the current average pay to more than $165,000, symphony officials said.

"We have negotiated in good faith since September, have shared volumes of financial information, and we have offered many different proposals that we had hoped would lead to a new agreement by this time," said Brent Assink, the symphony's executive director.

The symphony's operating expenses have outpaced income for the past four years, and the orchestra has incurred an operating deficit, officials said.

Anyone with tickets to a canceled show can exchange them for an upcoming concert, donate their tickets, or receive a refund. Info can be found by calling the Symphony Box Office at (415) 864-6000 (between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday) and on the Orchestra's website at www.sfsymphony.org.


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