With five weeks remaining in an SRO run of “Phantom of the Opera,” members of the Kennedy Center’s house orchestra agreed to strike Wednesday over plans by the Center to eliminate certain worker guarantees. Two Wednesday performances of the musical were canceled, but producers said they hope to have substitutes in place as early as today.

Picket lines went up following an Aug. 30 vote to authorize an “unfair labor practice strike.” Negotiations had been suspended following expiration of the orchestra’s contract earlier in the week.

At issue is the Kennedy Center’s determination to jettison current salary and employment guarantees.The expired pact guaranteed 10 weeks of payment to 61 musicians who play the Center’s ballet schedule and eight weeks for a 17-member ensemble that performs at musicals. The payments are guaranteed regardless of the number of musicians actually required and the dates played.

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