Chautauqua Symphony in war of words over contract impasse

Aug 23, 2016

Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra musicians are responding to what it says is a "highly crafted email" from the Chautauqua Institution that implies musicians are "overreaching" and "greedy" in their request for a pay raise.

The CSO sent out its own email, addressed to the Chautauqua Community, to correct what it said are false statements made by the orchestra's management, as contract negotiations have come to an impasse.

Credit Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra

Among their concerns, musicians said they are paid $8,580 plus expenses for a nine-week season - which is not more than musicians in Buffalo and Rochester are paid, as the Institution claims. They also noted that they have averaged a $95-a-season raise since 2010 and that the grand total increase in pay they have requested would amount to only $55,000 - not a tripling of the orchestra's cost to the Institution, as claimed.

Musicians particularly denounced the Institution's statement that the future of the orchestra rests with musicians. Musicians say negotiating is a shared responsibility and they are open to compromise, while the Institution has issued only an ultimatum.

However, on the website posted by the union, it says "Prolonged negotiations over months have been absolutely and totally futile. Absent a radical change by the Administration, no agreement will be reached."

The current agreement between the CSO and the Chautauqua Administration expires in December. The CSO performs its last concert of the season Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. under Conductor Cristian Macelaru, with trumpeter  Wynton Marsalis in the Chautauqua Amphitheater.