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Seattle Symphony And Opera Musicians Authorize Strike

Members of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players' Organization (SSOPO) voted October 15 to authorize a strike.  In a statement on its website, SSOPO representatives say the latest contract offers from both organizations call for 15 percent reductions in pay and benefits for the 2012-2013 season.  That's on top of concessions the musicians have already made.  The union says its membership can't take further cuts.  

In a printed statement, Seattle Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors President Leslie Chihuly praised the musicians for their service, and thanked them for the past concessions.  But she added, "We must further reduce expenses to achieve economic sustainability."  The orchestra ended last season with a balanced budget, but still carries about $11 million in debt.

A Seattle Opera spokesman declined to comment for this story, saying that negotiations are still ongoing.  The Opera is also experiencing financial problems.  This year, Opera General Director Speight Jenkins announced that his organization would end the season with a $1-million shortfall -- the first such shortfall in more than 20 years.  Seattle Opera took pre-emptive measures to staunch the cash outflow, including layoffs and program cutbacks.

Both Seattle Symphony and Seattle Opera plan to continue with all scheduled performances.  The SSOPO plans to continue scheduled negotiations with the organizations.