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Orchestra Nova Contract Talks Devolve

Above: Orchestra Nova's Jung-Ho Pak and musicians who have played with the orchestra during past seasons.

Orchestra Nova and the local musicians union have yet to sign a labor contract after months of negotiations. The chamber group's opening concert is scheduled for October 20th.

The musicians agreed to perform at that upcoming concert before talks broke down.

Now Orchestra Nova wants the musicians to promise not to strike at next week’s concert and they will, in turn, promise not to lock the musicians out.

Andrea Altona is the president of the local musicians union. She says they will not sign a no-strike agreement. "Our position is absolutely not. That’s one of the last rights we have left and there’s absolutely no benefit to us to waive that right at this point."

But Orchestra Nova doesn’t want to end up like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. When labor talks broke down there last month, musicians went on strike hours before the concert, leaving ticket holders stranded in the lobby of the concert hall.

"We were trying to protect ourselves, " says Orchestra Nova CEO, Beverly Lambert. "I thought they’d want to protect themselves and this seemed like an agreement we would both want to sign and agree to."

Lockouts and strikes are plaguing orchestras across the country. In most cases, musicians' salaries are at issue. Here, the main sticking point is how musicians look when performing.

While both sides appear stuck in their respective trenches, a deadline looms. The first Orchestra Nova rehearsal is scheduled for next Thursday.

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