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Orchestra musicians file grievance

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The musicians union has filed a labor grievance over the Honolulu Symphony’s declaration that its musicians have rejected its "best and final offer."

The grievance accuses the Honolulu Symphony Society, the entity that runs the business operations of the orchestra, of bargaining in bad faith, said Jonathan Parrish, a spokesman for the symphony musicians.

"Bad-faith bargaining is a pretty serious charge, I believe," he said.

The local office of the National Labor Relations Board confirmed receiving the filing late yesterday.

Wayne Yoshigai, an attorney and volunteer member of the symphony board, said he had not seen the complaint, but said the board had sent a letter to the musicians union indicating a willingness to continue talks if it had a counterproposal that was "financially realistic and sustainable."

He said the union’s only counterproposal so far was to reduce the number of concerts to 28 from 29.

The symphony society hopes to cut its budget to $1.7 million in its first year back, rising to $3.5 million by its third. It says its budget in its final year of operations was $8 million.

The musicians union, however, says the budget was $6.7 million.

The symphony has been in contract talks with the musicians in its attempt to emerge from bankruptcy. It has been in Chapter 11 proceedings since December.

Parrish said the symphony’s statement Sunday evening was intended to "wipe out the real news of the evening, which was that 100 concerned citizens got together to discuss how to save the symphony."

Suggestions made at that meeting included increasing community outreach, seeking new leadership for the organization and challenging the legality of the bankruptcy case.

In its announcement Sunday, the symphony said its offer "would keep the full complement of 63 musicians and maintain their rate of pay."

Parrish, however, said that offer would pay musicians $3,256 for five or six performances in its first year. In the 2008-09 season, its last full year of operation, the symphony gave more than 40 concerts, and musicians were paid nearly $31,000.


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