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Hartford Symphony Orchestra Musicians Rally in Protest of Salary Cuts

HSO musicians are upset about about a new contract proposal that would cut their salaries by 40 percent.

Musicians from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and supporters gathered for a rally on Thursday at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. 

HSO musicians are upset about about a new contract proposal that would cut their salaries by 40 percent.

Under the terms of a contract being negotiated between Local 400 of the American Federation of Musicians and HSO Management, HSO core musicians would see their pay drop from about $23,000 a year to below $15,000.

The proposed contract also requires musicians to be available for daytime performances, which HSO cellist Laura Kane said would be a burden for many musicians with day jobs.

"Anyone would agree that even [at] the $23,000-a-year level, you need to supplement your income," Kane said. "This is a huge issue, because it would totally keep us from doing any other jobs."

Musicians and supporters gathered outside the Bushnell on Thursday to greet HSO board members with signs and slogans as they attended a meeting with HSO management about the contract.

"I'm here to support the symphony. Our existence is in danger," said Arthur Massey, a violist with the HSO.

Sixteen months ago, the HSO and the Bushnell entered into a "management services contract." The HSO's office was absorbed in the administrative staff at the Bushnell, making David Fay president and CEO of both the Bushnell and the HSO.

Many had hoped the move would stabilize the HSO's finances, and give them more resources to try new and innovative programming. Ann Drinan, a violist with the HSO for 35 years, said that hasn't panned out.

Joe Messina, president of the Local 400 of the American Federation of Musicians, said he's hopeful a resolution can be reached before talk of a strikes and lockouts.

But HSO President and CEO David Fay believes the musicians' bargaining unit is distorting the details of the contract. In a written statement, Fay said: "We are preparing to respond factually to the accusations being made by the American Federation of Musicians in regard to the ongoing negotiations."

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series “Where Art Thou?” Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of “Morning Edition”, and later of “All Things Considered.”

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