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'We were forced into calling a strike' | San Antonio Symphony closing out 2021 on strike

Striking Symphony Musician's held a silent protest outside of a member of management's home.

SAN ANTONIO — Members of the Musician’s of the San Antonio Symphony’s Union held a silent protest Thursday outside the home of a leader of the San Antonio Symphony Society’s management.

The San Antonio Symphony is closing out 2021 without a single performance for the season due to the ongoing dispute between the symphony society and the musician’s union.

Although they are known for the sounds they create, on Thursday they walked in silence.

“We are silent right now because we were forced into calling a strike,” said Mary Ellen Goree principal second violin and musician’s negotiating committee chair.

“We were forced into calling a strike because our management imposed intolerable terms that they knew we would find intolerable,” she said.

Musicians of The San Antonio Symphony, wearing their black concert dress on an 80-degree Texas December day, picketed outside the home of Symphony Society Executive Director Corey Cowart.

“Just as we are silenced on the stage, we will be silent in front of his house,” Goree said.

They are hoping to convince him they mean business.

“The message we are sending is that we are serious, and we are united, and it isn’t just the negotiating committee sitting across the table from him saying these things. We are all saying these things.”

In a recent statement, the Musician’s Union said that the Symphony Society’s finances are in a better position than they’ve been in since 2014. Thanks to PPP loan forgiveness, other grants gained during the pandemic, and the lack of costs associated with putting on performances, The Symphony Society held assets in excess of $2.7 million as of the end of November 2021.

“The truth is that the Pandemic has been good for the Symphony Society, and the truth is that the pandemic has also been very good for the donor class. So yes, I can speak from personal experience the musicians have been harmed by the pandemic. there’s no reason why the fundraising should have been harmed to the extent that it evidently has been.”

The Symphony Society told KENS 5 in a statement:

“The Symphony’s current position in net assets is roughly where we were when we experienced previous challenging moments in our history.”

Adding also: “The pathway to maintain stability, and to move to sustainability, is to focus on growing reliable, renewable annual revenue, while adopting new long-term financial discipline.”

They also pointed out that of that $2.7 million, $2.2 million is held in restricted endowments that are not under the Symphony’s Board or Management’s control.

Goree said that the Musician’s focus is getting back up on stage. But only with full symphony under a fair contract.

“My colleagues and I very much would like to get back to making music for our fellow citizens of San Antonio, but not at the expense of agreeing to terms which will guarantee the demise of the san Antonio symphony.”

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