Atlanta Symphony, musicians produce document for vote

Is the sound of silence good?

As labor talks between the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its musicians continued Tuesday, both sides were quiet as to what was discussed or whether an end to their stalemate was on the horizon.

But there may be hope.

Joel Dallow, a spokesman for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association, said a document was produced from Monday night’s round of negotiations. On Tuesday, it was forwarded to the full orchestra for a vote, and the results are expected Wednesday night.

“It was agreed that we would take a proposal to the orchestra and let them decide,” Dallow said, quickly adding that the document and the vote did not mean that an agreement had been reached.

ASO President Stanley Romanstein would only say that talks continued Tuesday.

The date had a certain significance: Earlier this month, Romanstein said that in order for the season to begin as scheduled on Oct. 4, the labor issues had to be settled “on or about” Sept. 25. Otherwise, he said, the ASO would feel obligated to cancel all October performances, which includes a tribute to Simon & Garfunkel and a trip to Carnegie Hall.

While refusing to comment on what came out of Monday night’s meeting, the players association has confirmed that its latest proposal included $5.2 million in salary and benefit cuts over two years — exactly what management wanted. But the players also demanded that the ASO’s highest paid managerial employees take a pay cut as well.

Throughout the contract negotiations, which have lingered since March, management has been reluctant to cut staff salaries as part of a new collective bargaining agreement.

The musicians’ last contract expired Aug. 25. Since then, they have not been paid. The musicians characterize it as a lockout, while management calls it a work stoppage. The negotiations take place against the backdrop of the ASO’s mounting debt, which is projected to reach $20 million next year.

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