JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- A battle over money could be changing the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra's tune.
Action News has learned negotiations between the union and the symphony's board appear to be stalled, leaving opening day in jeopardy. The players union and the symphony board have been in talks for five months. They are trying to avoid a repeat of 2007. That's when musicians were locked out of work for nine weeks. During that time, each player lost $10,000.
A brochure just went out in our community and says the symphony is still scheduled to start in two weeks. We got our hands on a letter that was sent to board members Thursday night explaining the situation.
Action News has learned contract negotiations between the orchestra union members and the Symphony board of directors are not going well. Peter Wright is the president of the union representing the musicians. "We've in good faith tried to bargain and come down, and they haven't budged," said Wright.
They went through this same thing five years ago. It resulted in a nine-week lockout. "Each musician lost $10,000," said Wright. The two sides started negotiating five months ago. Wright said they've submitted five proposals to the board's one.
Here's how it breaks down. Wright says the board wants musicians to take a 20 percent cut in salary. The union's proposal is to keep salaries frozen at $40,000. The union also says it could save the symphony $750,000 over the next three years.
We went to the symphony office. They told us the negotiations were confidential and couldn't comment, but the season is still expected to go on.
Wright is worried about a repeat from five years ago, but he's trying to stay optimistic. He and the other musicians just want to share their love of music with the rest of our community. "I love my job and I love making music.....It's important to have an orchestra in a community like Jacksonville," said Wright.
Last year, the symphony had an $8.1 million budget. It operated in the red by $450,000.The season is scheduled to start Sept. 28.