Union for Philadelphia Orchestra musicians authorize strike if talks break down

Musicians authorized a strike against the Philadelphia Orchestra if bargaining breaks down for an agreement to replace the four-year deal that expires on Sept. 10.

Local 77 of the American Federation of Musicians said Sunday that 95% of voting members approved the strike authorization a day earlier. In addition to an agreement on compensation and benefits, the union said it wants 15 vacant positions filled.

Base salary in 2022-23 was $152,256, including electronic media agreement wages, the union said. Each musician received a supplemental payment of $750 or $1,500 in each year of the contract.

"We are disappointed in the decision by AFM Local 77 and the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra to authorize a strike," management said in a statement. "We will continue to negotiate in good faith towards a fiscally responsible agreement that ensures the musicians’ economic and artistic future."

The orchestra completed its summer residency at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday. Music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin wore a blue T-shirt supporting the union during an open rehearsal at Saratoga on Aug. 11.

The 2023-24 season at Philadelphia's Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Cultural Campus is scheduled to open Sept. 28 with Nézet-Séguin conducting a program that includes cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The orchestra filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and emerged a year later. Musicians struck on Sept. 30, 2016, causing cancellation of that season's opening night, then announced an agreement two days later.

The orchestra last month canceled a four-concert California tour with principal guest conductor Nathalie Stutzmann scheduled for March and was replaced by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, whose music director is Stutzmann.