BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s season is scheduled to begin this weekend, but musicians remain locked out amid a contract dispute.
Musicians here have been locked out of officially performing at the music venue since May.
Now, management said the lockout is lifted, but there is no agreement in place as the season is set to begin.
Cathedral Street had not quite fallen silent Tuesday afternoon but drivers did notice a difference in the summer picketing.
Dozens of musicians carrying — but not playing — their instruments.
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“As a way of demonstrating how upset we are that we can’t be performing for our loyal ticket-buyers and generous donors,” said Greg Mulligan, co-chair of the Players Committee.
They were dressed in black, marking an impasse in negotiations with the management of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
“In the 11th hour, the management was inflexible in moving off their destruction position of downsizing our organization by 20 percent,” said Brian Prechtl, co-chair of the Players Committee, referencing the playing time.
BSO management wants to reduce the season from 52 weeks down to 40 weeks.
“While we’ve had a 52 week season for many years, we have not had 52 performance weeks,” said Peter Kjome, BSO president.
While BSO President Kjome said it offered musicians a 2.8 percent increase in base pay, they said a shortened season translates to a big cut.
“And, in addition to a 15 percent cut in a salary alone, there are other reductions in our benefits that make our entire cut closer to 20 percent,” Mulligan said.
During the lockout, musicians performed more than 20 informal concerts across the city and state.
“We want to let Baltimore know that we’re still here,” Mulligan added.
But the silence outside the venue and at the bargaining table could jeopardize several concerts as the season is set to begin Saturday.
The lockout started more than 100 days ago.
Management said that the lockout is over, and musicians could come back under the old agreement as bargaining continues.
Musicians though have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, citing unfair labor practice.
So, the two sides remain far apart, and rehearsals were set to begin Wednesday.