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'We will not fold' | Musicians union on strike for fifth week as symphony concerts postponed, canceled

Reduced pay and orchestra size are among the issues the musicians union has problems with as part of the negotiated contract.

SAN ANTONIO — Dozens of musicians with the San Antonio Symphony picketed outside the Tobin Center on Wednesday for the third time since the strike commenced five weeks ago.

The ongoing strike has led to an eventless season for the symphony. Management announced the postponement of two upcoming concerts and cancellation of a holiday concert.

“We are still here, and we will not fold,” said Mary Ellen Goree, chair of the musicians negotiating committee.

The symphony board and management imposed a contact that slashed musicians’ pay from about $35,000 to $24,000.

The contract also cuts down on the symphony’s size from 75 to 42 fulltime musicians. Striking musicians are also stripped of their healthcare benefits and encouraged to opt in for COBRA health insurance.

Second principal violinist Mary Ellen Goree fears the could spell a grim future for the symphony.

“It will be the end of the San Antonio Symphony. It will be the end of the orchestra. We are not on strike capriciously. We are on strike because that is the only path going forward that can possibly result in a professional orchestra at the end of it,” Goree said.

The musicians union and Symphony Society of San Antonio have hurled formal complaints at each alleging bad-faith bargaining.

Goree noted the strike has caught the attention of musicians from other symphonies across the state.

“Many other professional orchestras have stepped up to express their support for us along with their checks. And we’ve also heard from individual musicians from those orchestras who have also sent us donation,” Goree said

Symphony management noted in a press release, “This continues to be a very difficult time for our entire community, most of all for our musicians. We look forward to meeting the union at the bargaining table to continue the negotiations process to arrive at a mutually agreeable contract.”

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