Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hard times for the ISO

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 3:16 PM

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has long bragged that it's one of less than 20 year-round orchestras in the country — since 1987, in fact, when the organization made the move to a full-year schedule under Maestro Raymond Leppard.

But contraction of all sorts is in the ISO's future if management has its way in ongoing negotiations with the musician's union.

According to Rick Graef, the union leader who took the ISO's plans public earlier this week, management proposes to reduce the orchestra's schedule from 52 to 36 weeks per year, reduce the number of full-time musicians from 87 to 63, cut musicians' salaries by 45 percent and reduce pension benefits.

Graef says that the union's negotiating committee has offered, in turn, $3.2 million in concessions over a five-year contract.

Reached for comment, ISO spokeswoman Jessica DiSanto said that "negotiations are ongoing up to the deadline," which is midnight Sunday. "We hope an agreement will be reached and will respect the negotiation process."

Graef told The Indianapolis Star that the proposals "will ruin the ISO," noting that musicians would leave for better employment opportunities.

We'll have more on the story as it develops. Graef told the Indianapolis Business Journal that he hopes to avoid either a lockout or a strike, both of which are options if union or management can't come to a resolution by Saturday. The two sides also have the option of continuing to work under the present contract beyond its expiration.

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