San Francisco Opera puts through pay cuts

San Francisco Opera (SFO), having cancelled its fall 2020 season due to COVID, has agreed a new contract with its musicians, which includes a 50% pay cut.

The 50% cut is just for the fall season, but further cuts to regular pay are factored in over the next two years. The contract also ties musician pay to ticket sales – a condition which does not apply to management pay.

However, SFO’s musicians released a statement in which they claimed they had been forced to agree with the deal: “The musicians of the SFO Orchestra voted to accept devastating changes to our existing contract,” said a statement released by the players. “The modified contract leaves key orchestra positions vacant for seven years, and ties the musicians’ compensation to ticket sales.

“Both of these modifications are unrelated to the pandemic and outside the musicians’ control.”

They added that: “management [is not] sharing equitably in the sacrifices it is imposing on its musicians, chorus and other employees. We are told that the Opera Board considers these changes necessary, though the company has amassed a quarter billion dollar endowment.”

SFO released its own statement, which said that “The modifications address the devastating financial impact of the ongoing pandemic and will help to ensure the long-term stability of the company.”

Added SFO general director Matthew Shilvock: “While we are grateful to be able to ensure guaranteed compensation and healthcare to our musicians over the next three years, no matter when we are able to return to performing, we are keenly aware of and grateful for the support and sacrifice the musicians have shown to help SFO weather this difficult time.”