At a rally on the steps of the state Capitol Wednesday, a huge crowd came out to support the musicians of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra who are being asked to take a huge pay cut next season.
"There's no reason that if the Bushnell and the Hartford Symphony are struggling, then the [HSO musicians] will come to the table fairly," said Lori Pelletier, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, addressing the crowd at Wednesday's rally. "But to say to one group give back 40 percent, while the other group 'congratulations on your raise' -- enough is enough!"
Union workers, supporters of the symphony, and musicians gathered to protest the proposed 38 percent pay cut for core musicians of the symphony under the new contract.
Musicians would also have to be available for daytime rehearsals and performances, which would be a hardship for many musicians who have day jobs.
The ongoing dispute between musicians and management is getting national attention. Leaders of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians and the Regional Orchestra Players Association spoke at Wednesday's rally, along with Ray Hair, national president of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the HSO musicians.
Hair had some pointed words for HSO and Bushnell President and CEO David Fay, who according to Hair, made $400,00 last year.
"I think it's time for David Fay to face the music in Hartford and explain why he can figure out how to fatten his own wallet and those of his management staff, but can't do it for Hartford Symphony musicians. It's time to find out why he's doing it for himself, and he's putting us in the poverty line," said Hair.
Earlier this week, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the HSO for "failing and refusing to bargain ... in good faith" with the union. "In an ideal negotiation both sides work together to advance the cause of the organization and to serve the community," says Bruce Ridge, Chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, "in this case, that hasn't happened."
After the rally, musicians and supporters marched to the Bushnell to picket in front of the venue, while musicians on the contract negotiating team headed inside to start the first meaningful round of contract talks with management since the contract was proposed in January.