Erie Phil Musicians Give Authority to Strike - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Erie Phil Musicians Give Authority to Strike

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It's not news that the Erie Philharmonic management wants to hear as the orchestra begins its 100th anniversary season, but musicians in the orchestra have given their union bargaining committee the authority to strike.

The musicians are working under a five year contract that expired August 31. Since the agreement ran out, they played the big Perry 200 celebration event at Liberty Park and the season opening pops concert at the Warner October 12.

The orchestra members, represented by the American Federation of Musicians Local 17, say their wages are not keeping pace with the cost of living. They are paid "per service," meaning for each rehearsal and performance.  According to a statement from union spokesman Christopher Durham, since 1994 the number of services has been cut in half.

Professional musicians who come from cities such as Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh to perform with the orchestra, are concerned with travel and hotel expenses too.

The musicians took the strike vote earlier this month. The union has scheduled a negotiation session with Erie Philharmonic officials and a federal mediator this Wednesday morning. New Executive Director, Jeffrey Collier said in a statement issued Monday afternoon, "We continue to be optimistic that the concerns raised by the musicians will be resolved amicably and quickly. We look forward to opening our symphonic season with our outstanding musicians and world-renowned violinist Gil Shaham on Saturday evening as planned."

The opening concert is set for 8:00 PM October 26th. The official 100th anniversary concert is scheduled for November 9.

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