The agreement, the result of negotiations held in early September, is valid for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons; terms will remain the same for both seasons, with the exception of a provision that will allow wage discussions to be re-opened in the second year.
The contract guarantees 32 weeks of employment (the same as the prior contract); a 2.63% raise in musicians' base pay plus extra compensation for outreach performances; and health benefits that will cover a newly-hired musician's spouse or domestic partner in their second year with the orchestra.
Other updated policies involve re-structuring of musician rotation within performance sections, audition procedures and use of taping devices during a rehearsal.
Ann Kossakowski, NJSO violinist and chairperson of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Players' Association, commented, "This contract continues musician involvement in every aspect of the organization and enables us to maintain our commitment to state-wide education initiatives and community outreach programs."
"The ratification permits us to now turn our attention to making music with [NJSO music director] Maestro Neeme J‹rvi," she added.
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra musicians play a key role in management decisions. Union members fill six positions on the board of trustees; musicians have also participated in all of the orchestra's committees, including strategic planning and employment searches for senior staff.
Dr. Victor Parsonnet, chairman of the NJSO board of trustees, said, "Our culture of inclusion has been of tremendous benefit and communicates how much we value our musicians. Inviting them into decision-making at all levels has led to greater understanding of each other's positions."