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Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players' Association officially on strike, following contract expiration

Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players Association
Ella Abbott
Members of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players' Association gather outside of their union office in downtown Fort Wayne to announce the possibility of a strike on Thursday, December 9, 2022.

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players’ Association has officially announced a strike, following a failure to reach an agreement with Philharmonic management Thursday.

“It has been made clear to us over the course of this negotiation that the Fort Wayne Philharmonic board and management seeks to carry forth with unacceptable rates of pay for musicians, fewer concerts and a drastically reduced presence in our community,” Players’ Association chairperson Campbell MacDonald said.

MacDonald said they’ve met with management nine times in recent months. The association met with management again today.

“This current wage proposal is part of a long-term strategy that will create a rotating door of employees,” MacDonald said. “We’ll have people coming and going, positions will remain unfilled. It’s a less attractive position and it’s a less attractive orchestra to be a member of.”

Philharmonic President Brittany Hall says management has negotiated in good faith since August and intends to continue to do so until an agreement can be reached.

"I am deeply disappointed to learn about the unions intention to strike," Hall said.

According to Hall, the players are asking for a 46% wage increase, which she called "unreasonable" and said "could never be sustained." Management has proposed an 11.5 percent increase.

“(The Philharmonic is) flush with cash,” MacDonald said. “Everyone in that organization is getting paid well. Except for us.”

In a statement Thursday, MacDonald wrote management “has yet to propose pay that allows us to afford basic needs and is married to the elimination of full-time positions.”

While negotiations will continue, musicians will not be rehearsing nor performing during the strike. Hall said the Philharmonic is working through next steps for ticket holders.

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.