Watch striking Pittsburgh Symphony musicians give free performance

Musicians at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra remain on strike after more than three weeks in opposition to plans by management to cut pay and reduce the size of the ensemble.

The management at the Pittsburgh Symphony announced the cancellation of shows through November 18. But the musicians continue to put on their own performances to rally support in the community and raise awareness of the issues involved in their struggle. The video above was taken at a day of protest earlier this month.

Management’s “last and best offer” included a 15 percent pay cut for musicians. They say that unless musicians accept this deal, they are not prepared to engage in further talks to resolve the strike.

The musicians reject any blame for the postponement of the concerts and issued a statement critical of management for their refusal to negotiate.

Showing his solidarity with PSO musicians, Elvis Costello cancelled a planned concert in Pittsburgh. He put out a statement saying he refuses to cross picket lines to play at Heinz Hall on November 1.

Backing for the musicians is strong in the community.

Pittsburgh Symphony
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2011. Image credit: Zsadler/Wikimedia Commons

The cuts demanded by the Pittsburgh Symphony are part of a broader process that is taking place at symphony orchestras across the United States. Musicians at the Philadelphia Orchestra took strike action the same day as their counterparts in Pittsburgh before agreeing a new contract two days later. Meanwhile, musicians at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, who launched a strike against proposed cuts in early September, remain out. The FWSO musicians held a rally Saturday in support of their cause.

The next event in Pittsburgh will be organised by musicians from the brass section of the orchestra. They will be joined by members of the Philadelphia and Cleveland orchestras, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony at a benefit concert on Sunday, October 23. More information is available at their website or on the Facebook event page.