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Detroit Symphony strike shuts down opening weekend

By the CNN Wire Staff
The musicians hit the picket line Monday morning, saying they would not agree to a 33 percent pay cut.
The musicians hit the picket line Monday morning, saying they would not agree to a 33 percent pay cut.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Concerts Friday through Sunday canceled
  • Musicians won't agree to 33 percent pay cut
  • Orchestra hopeful a deal can be worked out soon
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- An ongoing musicians strike prompted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday to cancel this weekend's season-opening concerts, which were to feature guest violinist Sarah Chang.

The lack of necessary rehearsal time, even if a deal were reached, prompted the action, the orchestra said in a statement.

The musicians hit the picket line Monday morning, saying they would not agree to a 33 percent pay cut. They had made a counteroffer of a 22 percent salary reduction.

The DSO has offered to let ticket-holders exchange their tickets for any concert or Orchestra Hall event at a later date, and directed them to the orchestra website, www.detroitsymphony.com, for more information.

The orchestra's board is willing to meet the musicians, but no negotiating sessions are currently scheduled, said symphony spokeswoman Elizabeth Twork. "There is no reluctance on our side to meet," she said Tuesday.

The orchestra accrued a $3.9 million deficit in 2009 and would face a $6.5 million deficit without changes to the three-year contracts, Twork said Tuesday.

Under the current contract, the base starting salary for a musician is $105,000 with nine weeks of paid vacation. The new contract would change that base salary to $70,000, with an increase to $72,000 in the second year and $73,000 in the third year, with three weeks of paid vacation.

Haden McKay, a cellist with the DSO, said the board also wants pension and benefit cuts.

The quality of the orchestra would suffer with cuts of this magnitude, McKay said, adding that it would be difficult to recruit new members.