This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The American Federation of Musicians (of which the Utah Symphony musicians are a part of) just announced that it opposes the Philadelphia Orchestra board's decision to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
AFM asserts that the orchestra is not out of money and that a bankruptcy filing will irreparably damage the reputation of the institution.
The decision was reached by vote at a board meeting Saturday, marking the first time a major American orchestra has filed for bankruptcy protection. Claiming that it only has funds to pay the bills for two more months, and projecting a $5 million deficit this year, the board claims that the move was necessary in order to save the orchestra in the long run.
Musicians question how the board and management can say the orchestra is out of money, when it has a $124 million endowment. Furthermore, musicians fear that the bankruptcy filing will be used to force a new contract and eliminate pension payments. "This bankruptcy filing is a clumsy, flatfooted attempt by management to free itself from musicians' pension benefit obligations and leverage unjustified contract concessions from the orchestra," says AFM President Ray Hair in a press release. "Fortunately, the bankruptcy judiciary is well equipped to handle the dangerous game the company is playing – a game that the AFM will expose and oppose – a game which threatens the livelihoods of the finest musicians in the world." For now, Philadelphia Orchestra concerts are continuing as scheduled.