FORT MYERS, Fla. — Musicians with the Southwest Florida Symphony could strike for the first time in history over pay.
The union unanimously agreed to allow the musicians to strike, if necessary.
Tom Kracmer, a symphony musician, says the reason for the strike comes back to money.
"That's the main concern we have, is that we're in a high growth area, one of the highest growing areas in the country, but yet our budget is shrinking constantly," Kracmer, owner of Cadence Music, said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers have lost 7.4 million labor hours to strikes in 2023 so far, the largest loss in 23 years.
The musicians of the symphony tell Fox 4 the amount of concerts have been cut in half over the last 10 years, and some say this strike is a last resort.
"Proceeding to a strike, if we have to go to that," said Dione Chandler, an oboe player with the symphony. "We hope we don't. We really want to contribute, be a part of the community, we want to work more."
Fox 4 reached out to the CEO of Southwest Florida Symphony and provided the following statement:
The Southwest Florida Symphony is both surprised and confused by the musicians’ decisions to take a strike vote. The parties have both been actively participating in negotiations. We provided a full contract proposal to the the musicians back in early August and are currently awaiting a response from them. We are committed to bargaining in good faith and are hopeful that the parties can reach agreement on a long-term contract soon. Toward that goal, we have made ourselves available for the purpose of bargaining tomorrow and on Tuesday and are awaiting a response from the musicians.
The orchestra is a per service orchestra, meaning the musicians get paid for every rehearsal and performance. They say in the past, they used to get three to four rehearsals.
Now, they say that number is one to two.
"We're coming to work, and we go away with losing money, which doesn't make any sense," Chandler said.
The musicians say they are looking forward to having a fair and reasonable contract.