The previous contract expired on September 5, but musicians agreed to continue playing while talks continued.
According to the CSO, the new contract, which runs though September 2007, will save a total of $1.5 million. Musicians agreed to reduce healthcare costs by 11 percent by paying higher co-payments and deductibles, and to reduce the size of the orchestra from 99 to 92 through attrition over the next two years.
Musicians will get an additional week of vacation, for a total of eight, and a 2.4 percent pay raise in the contract's third year.
The CSO has struggled to balance its budget in recent years, and had projected a $1.8 million deficit for 2003-04, before an anonymous donor volunteered to retire the orchestra's debts. Nevertheless, management had insisted that the new contract would have to reduce costs.
"We are pleased an agreement has been reached and that, through the cooperative spirit on both sides of the table, we have reduced expenses and can address the financial challenges the CSO faces," board chair Rick Reynolds said in a statement. "These reductions, as well as cost savings throughout the organization, will allow the CSO to reduce the amount of operating funds drawn from our endowment."
"On behalf of the players' committee, I thank the musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for their patience as we grappled with the many difficult issues," said violinist Paul Frankenfeld, chairman of the musicians' orchestra committee. "All the members of the orchestra have continued to perform at the peak of their abilities, and we thank them for supporting this contract."