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Fort Worth Symphony Musicians, Management Agree To Mediation

Richard Wayne
The Fort Worth Symphony performing one of its many summer concerts.

Members of the Fort Worth Symphony have been without a contract for more than a year. Negotiations with management have been contentious. The two sides have now agreed to federal mediation.

Mediation means a mutual third party will help the two sides reach a contract agreement. But any deal is non-binding. Either side could reject a mediated negotiation.

For months, both sides have been feuding. Musicians even held public demonstrations at a concert and in Sundance Square. Meanwhile, the concert season continued. 

Management said it had to cut musician pay, even though orchestra members took cuts in their last contract. 

Fort Worth Symphony President Amy Adkins said cuts are still on the table because the orchestra faces as much as an $800,000 deficit.

“It’s a very difficult thing for us to ask them to do,” she told KERA. “It’s certainly a sacrifice. We are not asking them to shoulder the entire financial problem of the symphony. We are asking them to take a proportionate share.”

Musicians have argued that with a growing Fort Worth economy and population, money should be out there for raises, not more cuts.  Orchestra member Ed Jones, however, said neither side could really move past that. He said musicians now want a mediator’s help to find common ground.

“In our last proposal, we offered an opportunity for some time for them to find a way to look for additional sources of funding and income,” Jones said.

Adkins says her management team is doing that, but warns that all Fort Worth nonprofits are competing with each other for a piece of what's becoming the city's shrinking philanthropy pie. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.