DALLAS -- They're known for making some of the most beautiful sounds in North Texas, but Thursday, they used silence to get their point across.
Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra are officially on strike. They began picketing outside Bass Hall some time after 12:30 p.m. Thursday, just one day before they were supposed to perform their first concert of the season.
All the concerts this weekend have since been canceled. Click here for more information about the cancelations.
"The musicians want a deal," said long-time musician Paul Unger. "We want to keep the music going. But we have to stand up for the quality of the music. We have to protect this organization."
Symphony management and musicians have been at odds for more than a year now over the terms of a new, four-year proposed contract.
"Quite honestly, we're not only disappointed, we're completely baffled by it," Symphony President Amy Adkins said of the strike. "Just last week, we thought we had a deal."
Adkins said a projected $700,000-a-year deficit is why they're asking for concessions. Adkins says a drop in corporate donors is the big reasons for their recent shortfalls.
Adkins says management's best, last, and final offer would indeed reduce pay, at first, but by the end of the contract, she says musicians would make 3.5 percent more than what they do now.
She says she's offered to take the same cut.
"Believe me, if we could pay our musicians more, we would," Adkins said. "But you cannot get blood out of a turnip. And you have to be responsible."
But union president Stewart Williams says their pay in 2020 would still be less than what they made in 2010, before they took a 13.5 percent cut.
"They think cuts are necessary to grow an artistic organization. We just don’t agree with that," he said. "We believe cuts are damaging our organization."
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called the Symphony "an incredible jewel for the performing arts community" in the city.
"This situation is tough for all sides because even though it is a private organization, these actions impact our community in such tangible ways," Price said. "I've spoken with both sides and while disheartened it's come to this, I hope that they will be able to come back to the table and sort this out for the good of our community."
Until the two sides find themselves back at the table, musicians say they'll continue holding picket signs instead of instruments.