Growth Not Cuts
An Open Letter to Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Management

To the management of Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra,

We are writing in support of the musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra who are vital to our town’s culture and economy. They teach our kids, perform for our families, patronize our businesses, and are an integral part of Fort Worth’s renowned “Cowboys and Culture” way of life.

Some of us are long-time symphony subscribers, some are first-time concert-goers, and others live and work in the area. We are all extremely concerned about the path you are on.

Since September 2015, you have insisted that musicians take an 8.7% pay cut—dragging salaries back to 2003 levels. Going backward is not the Fort Worth way.

Musicians took a 13.5% cut in 2010, saving the orchestra over $2.3 million to help with the bottom line. That was during the recession—but even now you claim you cannot raise more money in our thriving economy.

Balancing the budget on the backs of the musicians is wrong. We stand with the musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony, and are ready to act to support them. We call on you to negotiate a fair contract now—a contract promoting growth, not cuts.

Update 1/30/2016: After threatening to unilaterally impose pay cuts, orchestra management has agreed to maintain 2014-15 wages through July 31, 2016 and immediately return to the bargaining table. But this isn’t the end—musicians continue to call for a contract promoting #GrowthNotCuts, reflecting Fort Worth’s thriving economy and honoring the legacy of “Cowboys and Culture”. Sign the open letter now!

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Get the Facts

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Negotiations

  • Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) management continues to demand that musicians take an 8.7% pay cut. Musicians already took a 13.5% cut in 2010, saving the orchestra over $2.3 million to help with the bottom line.
  • Typical musicians in the orchestra are paid $54,953 a year. Management's proposal would reduce pay to $50,175 for the same amount of work. Salary hasn't been this low since 2003. By comparison, minimum salary for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is $96,825.
  • Ticket sales in 2015 are up by 13% and subscriptions by 5%, and the orchestra receives consistently positive reviews. Yet the musicians are being told to pay for a pattern of short-sighted management.
  • Musicians propose a one year wage freeze for management to get its house in order and develop a credible plan to grow the orchestra. Fort Worth deserves an orchestra that reflects its vital role in our communities.
  • Fort Worth is the #1 fastest growing large city in the country, and charitable giving nationally was at an all-time high in 2014. But management says they can't raise more money and has not produced a comprehensive fundraising plan that grows the organization.
  • FWSO's budget has shrunk from $13.1 million in 2009 to $11.9 million in 2014. In comparison, smaller cities such as Salt Lake City and Detroit are home to orchestras with budgets of $19 million and $27 million, respectively.
  • Management is turning back the clock on decades of progress. Visionaries built the ensemble up into a highly acclaimed, full-time, 52-week orchestra, but with management's proposal the number of full-time weeks drops to 39.
  • Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra musicians are standing together calling for a fair contract ensuring that Fort Worth sustains the art and commerce that come with a world 
 class orchestra.

From the Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, AFM Local 72-147