FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Musicians from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic have taken their case to the doors of the Barrett McNagny law firm on East Berry Street, where negotiations continue after the players’ association went on strike Thursday regarding wages and availability.
Negotiations resumed at 2 p.m. Monday over a strike that affected holiday programs like the popular Holiday Pops concert.
Barrister Anthony Stites, representing management, told WANE 15 he would not be able to make statements during the negotiations. Around 4 p.m., Sara Manning, project manager for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, sent an email saying that both parties were “still at the table. We will keep you posted on any developments as they become available.
However, Campbell MacDonald, the president of the players’ association, revealed some of the musicians’ demands just before entering the law firm as part of a small negotiating team.
The musicians are currently asking for an 8% increase from what they were granted two years ago during negotiations. Currently, the base salary is $22,000 per year. The two sides have met nine times since the players’ contract expired in August.
They are also fighting the elimination of three full-time positions that management says should be part-time. Those positions include solo harp, solo tuba and solo third French horn, MacDonald said.
Currently, there are 44 full-time and 19 part-time musicians.
Besides salaries, there is an issue with player availability, MacDonald said.
“We’re available to play, and all of our musicians are available to play, and all of our musicians are available to work whenever they’re scheduled,” MacDonald said. Availability is historically morning, noon and evening, but the hours between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. are traditionally reserved for musicians “to have lives, go to our family functions, maybe dinner once a week if that. We’re always tied down at night and the weather, 4-7, is sacrosanct for us because that’s how we can function like the rest of the world.
The duty time for full-time musicians is between 5 and 10 working hours, however, musicians practice “all the time”.
“This idea that we’re not full-time workers is absurd,” MacDonald said. Orchestras don’t have a standard work schedule like 8 to 5 or 9 to 5.
“We have reached agreement on a number of terms regarding flexibility in programming with additional flexibility for the Philharmonic,” MacDonald said. “We have adjusted some work rules for them.”
The big sticking point is wages. “Our determination is very, very strong. It’s up to them and what they’re willing to do,” MacDonald said.