New Developments

Canned 'Carmen' generates protesters at ballet
Oct 9, 2004

Pre-'Carmen' concerts planned outside Benedum to protest ballet cuts
Oct 5 2005

 

“What the Audience is saying about “The Nutcracker”

  Pictures

A look at the Orchestra

 

  News & Articles

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, musicians anticipate more talks

Nov 23, 2005

 

Canned 'Carmen' generates protesters at ballet
Oct 9, 2004

Pre-'Carmen' concerts planned outside Benedum to protest ballet cuts
Oct 5 2005

PBT Dancers Show Support
Aug 20, 2005

PSO musicians & respond to PBT
Aug 11, 2005

Pittsburgh Tribune
Aug 4, 2005

A history of our negotiations with PBT:

The musicians of the PBT have a 5 year contract with management. Over the past 5 years, management has asked the musicians to make voluntary pay cuts, and, as part of the PBT family, we did.

In 2001, management reopened the contract and renegotiated a 12% pay cut from the musicians for the season.

At the start of the 2003 season, the musicians were surprised to find that, in a cost cutting move, management had reduced the orchestra for the opening production of Swan Lake by eliminating a number of string and wind players from the roster.

  • When string players are eliminated from the orchestra, the sound of the entire section suffers as fewer players have to force their sound to make up for the missing players. In addition, the sound engineer has to augment the sound by placing microphones throughout the section turning up the volume is a poor substitute for the sound of a complete string complement, as an increase in volume is not the same as the fullness of sound created by a full string section. All wind players in a ballet orchestra play their own individual parts, so if a wind player is eliminated, his or her part must be inserted into another instrumental part, or be missing altogether. For example, a single trombone player may be playing his own part as well as covering music for a missing French horn player or two. The result: an artificially amplified string sound, and wind parts that are not what the composer intended.

In order to preserve the artistic integrity of the orchestra, the musicians approached management and offered to take a 5% pay cut for the season instead of allowing musicians to be eliminated. Management agreed to this pay concession, and the number of musicians in the productions was restored.

In 2004, the last year of our 5-year contract, management approached the musicians in November to ask for another voluntary pay concession of 5% for the season, starting with the December production of The Nutcracker. Again, the musicians agreed. However, before The Nutcracker performances began, management told the musicians that they were rescinding their request for the concession without further explanation.

In December 2004, management announced they were reopening the contract again to renegotiate pay rates. This time they proposed a 50% pay cut for the remaining two productions with orchestra in the season. (Note: management would have realized more cost savings if they had accepted the 5% pay concession from the musicians before the December performances of The Nutcracker.) The musicians responded that such a cut from the musicians alone would not solve the PBTs financial problems, since the total cost of the orchestra amounted to only 6% of PBTs budget. Instead, we proposed sharing the cost of the deficit throughout the organization: an equality of sacrifice proposal:

* An orchestra salary reduction

* A call to management and staff to assume similar cuts

* A call to the Board of Trustees to raise additional funds as needed

* In addition, the musicians asked that management eliminate language from the contract that allows them to reopen the contract and slash musicians wages at will.

In the face of negative press coverage over the proposed 50% orchestra wage cut, management rescinded the request to reopen and renegotiate the contract.