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Seeking commensurate pay raises and benefits, San Francisco Symphony Musicians are on Strike—Thursday’s Mahler Concert Cancelled

As a way of emphasizing that the Los Angeles Symphony treats its musicians better than does San Francisco, during a protest on Tuesday, members of the string quartet wore Los Angeles Dodgers caps and placed a San Francisco Giants hat on the floor between them.

Just a day before four scheduled concerts at Davies Hall of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 and one week before an East Coast tour, the San Francisco Symphony orchestra announced this morning that they are on strike.  Their contract expired in expired in November 2012, but was extended to February when, by mutual agreement, the musicians continued negotiating and playing.  This morning, the Musicians Union of San Francisco, Local 6, representing musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, rejected the administration’s latest proposal for a three-year contract.  In a press conference today, SFS administration said that their proposed contract keeps SFS musicians among the three highest-paid orchestras in the country.” (The Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic are the other two orchestras).  The current average salary of the musicians is $165,000, according to SFS administration.   

SFS musicians’ current base pay is $141,700 each year, and they receive 10 weeks of paid vacation.

The latest SFS administration proposal offered a minimum base yearly salary of $141,700 in the first year, with multi-year increases to $144,560 by the end of the proposed contract.  During the most recent four-year contract, the musicians’ base minimum pay increased by 17.3%, an average of 4.3% per year.  In addition to the minimum base salary, other musician compensation— radio payments, over-scale, and seniority— raises the current annual average pay for SFS musicians to over $165,000 SFS administration reported.

Along with higher salaries, the musicians are seeking increases in benefits and pension contributions.  They claim that pay and benefits need to be commensurate  with other top orchestras and in accord with the high cost of living in the Bay Area.

SFS administration will present a revised proposal to the orchestra members on Thursday in hopes that the San Francisco concerts can resume on Friday and the East Coast tour can proceed.  The 103-member orchestra is supposed to leave next Tuesday for two concerts at New York’s Carnegie Hall, one in Newark, N.J., and one at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Patrons can obtain up-to-the-minute information on concerts, ticket exchanges and customer service by calling the Symphony Box Office at (415) 864-6000 and on the Orchestra’s website at

March 13, 2013 Posted by | Symphony | , , | 1 Comment