Symphony, musicians reach agreement to end strike

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane Symphony and symphony musicians have announced they have reached an agreement, bringing to an end a four-week long strike.

The announcement was made at a press conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday at The Fox.

Musicians went on strike in early November after contract negotiations with the symphony failed to yield a new contract to replace the one that expired on Aug. 30. Both sides have been to the bargaining table several times trying to hammer out their differences.

One of the biggest points of contention between musicians and management was salary cuts; management proposed a two-year contract with a 13-percent pay cut, which the musicians rejected, saying they would be willing to take a six-percent pay cut.

The new contract, ratified by both the Spokane Symphony Board and symphony musicians, included an agreement on two key issues, guaranteed services and an expanded leave policy.

The announcement of the joint press conference comes at the deadline for musicians to start rehearsing for the first performance of the Nutcracker, scheduled for Thursday evening. They will now perform live at Thursday's performance as well as all future performances.

Musicians needed to start rehearsing Tuesday in order to have a live musical performance Thursday; if they didn't start practicing Tuesday, audiences would see the performance with recorded music.

"We are very happy to have reached agreement with the musicians, whose time and talent we greatly value. It's been difficult for all involved. Now more than ever is a time when understanding, collaboration and support will be necessary in order for all of us to move forward," Spokane Symphony Board President Peter Moye said in a written statement posted to the symphony's Facebook page.

"After receiving such overwhelming support from so many wonderful people in the Spokane area, and from other places all over the country, the musicians simply could not turn our backs on this terrific community for the Christmas and holiday season. Our goal since the beginning has been to preserve and maintain artistic excellence, and we're confident that the amazing community support we've experienced will ultimately lead to a brighter future for both the musicians and for the organization." Adam Wallstein, chairman of the Orchestra Committee, added in the same statement.

Nearly a half dozen performances were cancelled during the musicians' strike.