Picket Signs Replace Instruments At BSO (BBJ Story)
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians picketed rather than practiced at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Monday morning, hours after learning the orchestra's board had decided to lock them out amid ongoing contract negotiations.
It's the latest escalation in a dispute that has lasted for months. Musicians had been playing without a contract since January and last month learned that a summer concert series announced in April would be canceled. BSO leaders say cutting the orchestra's season from 52 weeks to 40 weeks — which would also mean a hit to musician salaries and benefits — is necessary to keep the organization afloat financially. The BSO has lost $16 million over the past decade as orchestras nationwide have struggled to raise funds and draw crowds. BSO management and musicians, who are represented by Local 40-543, will head back to the negotiating table Friday, said Brian Prechtl, a co-chair of the BSO musicians' union. The musicians plan to continue picketing until then, he said.