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Restless in Seattle, musicians approve strike authorization

Arts and CultureEntertainmentCultureMusicMusic IndustryChicago Symphony Orchestra

More musicians are in the midst of a labor dispute and a strike is threatened, this time in Seattle.

The union that represents the musicians of the Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera is playing hardball after the management of both groups proposed on Oct. 10 that the musicians  take a 15% reduction in overall compensation for the 2012-13 season. 

The Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization on Monday approved a “strike authorization” for its members.   

The Seattle musicians have made financial concessions since 2005, giving back more than $9.6 million to the symphony, the unions said. Contract negotiations, which have been going on since the summer, have aimed to reach a collective bargaining agreement that reverses these concessionary trends.

“We are proud of the contribution our past concessions have made toward balancing the budget, and see no reason that continued pay cuts should be necessary,” cellist David Sabee said in a statement from the union.

“We are entering a new era at the Seattle Symphony and need to develop a compensation package reflective of this new period in order to uphold the artistic integrity of the symphony and attract and retain the highest quality musicians.”

Seattle follows in the footsteps of other American orchestras grappling with labor and financial problems, notably the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where musicians went on strike for 48 hours last month. Orchestras in Philadelphia, Detroit,  Indianapolis and Atlanta as well have been struggling over financial and compensation challenges.

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