Philly Pops musicians vote to strike if necessary; negotiations underway

The last show is scheduled for June.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Philly Pops musicians vote to strike if necessary
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The union says 95% of Philly Pops musician union members voted to authorize a strike if necessary in order to resolve what it calls a "lack of transparency" by management before last month's announcement.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Negations are ongoing between the Philly Pops musicians' union and Pops leadership after voting overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if necessary.

"It's an unfortunate time of year to have to deal with something like this," said Jarred Antonacci, who is the secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia Musicians Union. "Striking is not something anyone wants to do."

The Philly Pops announced last month it will cease operations following the conclusion of the 2022-2023 season. The last show is scheduled for June.

SEE ALSO: The Philly Pops to cease operations at end of 2022-23 season

At the time of the announcement, Chief Operating Officer Karen Corbin said, without question, COVID-19 played a major role in the decision.

"We weathered the storm. We continued to perform throughout. We did a full season last season. No one expected that this season's sales numbers would be lower than last," said Corbin.

But contract negotiations between the musicians' union, American Federation of Musicians, Local 77, and Pops management have been reportedly going on since August.

The union says 95% of Philly Pops musician union members voted to authorize a strike if necessary in order to resolve what it calls a "lack of transparency" by management before last month's announcement.

"Bargaining in bad faith is the charge that's been filed," Antonacci said of the legal charge that the union filed against Philly Pops.

Philly Pops issued a statement to Action News saying in part, "We did meet today and reached agreement on a number of issues. There is much work to be done and we look forward to continuing discussions. We remain committed to a positive outcome. "

A spokesperson with Pops told Action News that negotiations ended Wednesday by 4 p.m. and would resume on Thursday.

Antonacci confirmed that progress had been made, issuing a statement to Action News Wednesday night: "After a lot of hard work, we have been able to make progress on our contract so we will be able to play tonight's performance. We are so grateful for the support we've gotten from the public. We will be returning to the negotiating table first thing tomorrow in hopes that we can play the rest of the holiday performances."

"There are a lot of questions that we have that we've not been able to get the answer to," he said.

Among those unanswered questions is whether another company will take over when Philly Pops ceases operations. If they do, musicians want to guarantee they'll be employed.

"We basically need a successor agreement with this contract that says whomever inherits programming pops will use the orchestra with these players. With the same contract we have now or better," Antonacci said.

The musicians also want to guarantee that they'll be the ones to finish out the final season for Philly Pops. They also want what they say is a reasonable pay raise.