DETROIT – There is discord between musicians and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. An ongoing contract dispute could lead to a strike.
They make it look and sound effortless. The talented musicians of the DSO use their skills and dedication to fill the air with music.
However, a contract dispute threatens to bring concerts to an abrupt halt. Faced with a multi-million dollar deficit, DSO management is asking for deep pay cuts upwards of 28-percent. The musicians have come back with a proposal of their own for their three year contract, but right now both sides won’t budge.
“We’re not closing our eyes to the struggles of Detroit, the struggles of Michigan, the struggles of the country. Even in the third year, the salaries of the musicians will be less than it is currently. So, we are willing and able to make cuts. We want to talk. We want to engage. We want to play for this great community at all times,” said Kenneth Thompkins.
He has been playing trombone with the orchestra for the last 13 years.
Right now, Detroit ranks tenth in the country when it comes to musicians’ salaries. Base pay last year was about $105,000. The DSO wants to cut that to $70,000 to $74,000. The musicians are asking for about $82,000.
“I have a family. I have a nine-year-old, and I have responsibilities. I’m in the community. I go to church here. I own property here. It’s very stressful. If we go below a certain point, all the great players that are here now will have to consider leaving,” Thompkins said.
The next round of contract talks is set for August 27, just two days before the musicians’ contract expires. The hope is this will be resolved before the first week in October when the DSO’s new season begins.
The musicians also plan to take their contract dispute to the streets. They’ll put on a performance next Thursday at 12:30 at Campus Martius Park and ask for the public’s support.