"The musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra have agreed to a contract by a substantial margin that preserves our position as one of the finest orchestras in the world," said cellist John Koen, a representative of the musicians, in a statement.
Negotiators for the orchestra's management and musicians reached agreement on the contract on the morning of November 16, nearly two months after the previous contract had originally expired. Musicians had delayed ratifying the deal in order to examine it more closely.
As reported last week, the contract calls for a one-year pay freeze followed by increases in 2005-06 and 2006-07. The minimum salary will rise to $2,200 per week, or $114,400 per year, in the final year of the contract. Health benefits also rise.
Among the concessions won by management were the addition of 30 additional concerts a year, including four Sunday concerts and additional student and family concerts. Musicians agreed to a reduction of full-time musicians, by attrition, from 109 to 103, but that number will increase to 106 by the third year of the contract. The deal also sets out new terms for recording and broadcasting that will allow the orchestra to make four CDs a year and broadcast nationally and internationally 26 times a year.
"This contract provides a salary and benefits package that allows us to continue to attract and retain the finest musicians; modifies work rules to enable us to implement new initiatives to expand our audience and their understanding of our music; and positions us more realistically to achieve balanced budgets beginning this fiscal year," said Philadelphia Orchestra president Joseph H. Kluger.
The ratification of the contract ends months of sometimes contentious negotiations; in August, with little progress made, both sides claimed the other was threatening the future of the orchestra. On September 18, two days before the previous contract was to expire, players voted to authorize a strike. But musicians and management agreed to a 30-day extension‹and then, a month later, to another extension.
Both sides said much of the credit for the agreement was due to Philadelphia mayor John Street, who entered talks in October and mediated a series of long sessions, culminating in the all-night talks that started on November 15 and produced an agreement at 5:30 the following morning.