FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- The Fort Wayne Philharmonic musicians held a rally Saturday afternoon outside the Allen County Courthouse for their May Day Rally to Restore Music.
Musicians with the philharmonic were furloughed in 2020 because of the pandemic. Many of them have been pushing to get their jobs back.
Guest speakers and other orchestra musicians joined the rally to show their support.
"It was important for us to bring people together, bring our unions together, bring our members together,” International President of the American Federation of Musicians Ray Hair said. “The orchestra can't survive without the support of the community. They also can't survive without honest management.”
Organizers say the philharmonic has been negotiating with management for a new contract since 2019.
"Why are these musicians out on the street, why haven't they had paychecks since last summer, it's because the management doesn't want them to,” Hair said. “They're lining their own pockets. Nobody in management would have a job if it weren't for us.”
The musicians say they've tried to adjust their plans like hosting virtual performances rather than in-person. They say management has not agreed and many musicians are still without pay.
"Musicians are dedicated in negotiating fairly and we're going to work the negotiating table to try to get musicians back to work.” Chairperson Fort Wayne Philharmonic Players Association Campbell MacDonald said.
Hair says he’s trying to support the musicians and hoping this dispute will come to an end with management.
"It says you have an intransigent management,” he said. “The company has $26 million dollars in the bank, not a good scene. The town is going to suffer, Fort Wayne is going to suffer, everybody is going to lose."
Managing Director of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic James Palermo is on the American Federation of Musicians Unfair List. The only orchestra from Canada and the U.S. Officials with the National Labor Relations Board say a formal complaint form asserts the philharmonic violated federal law by engaging in bad faith and regressive bargaining with musicians.
A new contract is on the table right now. Organizers say it’s 28 working weeks spread out over the course of 52 weeks. Hair says salaries would be frozen for three years. Also, the philharmonic management says they will be going to trial on June 2nd.