YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Musicians with the Pittsburgh Symphony are on strike, but the Youngstown Symphony seems to have a good relationship with its musicians’ union.
Men and women who normally hold violins and french horns are now carrying picket signs outside of Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall.
“They’re salaried players. They make anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 a year,” said Del Sinchak, president of Musicians Local 86-242 in Youngstown.
The Pittsburgh Symphony is running a $1.5 million deficit, and wants both wage cuts and layoffs. The labor dispute has canceled all concerts for the rest of October.
The Youngstown union has been around for 118 years with offices in Stambaugh Auditorium. It represents members of the Youngstown Symphony, who are not salaried. Rather, they get paid when they work.
Two weeks ago, they agreed to a new one-year contract.
“The symphony did not ask for a decrease in pay, but we didn’t get an increase in pay either,” Sinchak said.
He says they make about $90 for each performance and rehearsal.
Musicians with the Youngstown Symphony have never gone on strike.
“If we have a problem, we don’t have a problem because we talk it out, and our relationship has been wonderful, really,” Sinchak said.
Still, Youngstown Symphony President and CEO Patricia Syak says the symphony has its struggles, just like others elsewhere. Fewer people are interested in Mozart and Beethoven.
“We are operating, sometimes with some difficulties, but we do manage to keep a cash flow.”
Syak calls the symphony’s relationship with the musicians’ union a healthy one.
“We do sit down and have our lively discussions but at the end of the day, we always come to terms.”
Sinchak agrees that the two parties get along just fine.
“We’re trying to work together because both the symphony and the union want to have a great symphony, and we do have a good symphony here in Youngstown.”
In its heyday, Youngstown’s musicians’ union had 1,700 members. Today it has 200.