Milwaukee, WI (October 12, 2006) – The 46 orchestra musicians employed by the Milwaukee Ballet have voted to reject the company’s wage proposal for the 2006/2007 season, which is scheduled to open this weekend (October 12-15) with four performances of “Don Quixote.”
Some 90% of the voting musicians voted to turn down the company’s offer of a 1.5 % increase after learning that the company also plans to withdraw at least one-fifth of the employment it offered prior to the season, eliminating the musicians’ work at a February 2007 series of performances and presenting instead a program accompanied exclusively with recorded music.
“We know how important live music is to the ballet’s audience and board of directors,” says David Lussier, a trombonist with the orchestra. “Because of its complexities, this weekend’s production of “Don Quixote” could not be performed by the Ballet without the nuances that our musicians provide. It appears that management is moving in an extremely negative direction.”
Since the October 8 vote, the musicians have presented a new proposal asking for a 3.5% increase. They also continued to rehearse for the opening weekend as a show of good faith.
Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra musicians, most of whom earn only $67 for each rehearsal and less than $92 for each performance, have seen their wages increase only by 1% since September 2003.
“We are certain that a reasonable settlement can be reached when the management and board understand that the hard work they have put into the Milwaukee Ballet will be lost without the quality we provide through our artistry. We can’t commit to an organization that not only doesn’t provide reasonable salary increases, but also goes back on its word,” Lussier said.
The musicians are represented by Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada AFL-CIO.