Under a three-year deal proposed to musicians at a meeting last night, the minimum salary would be reduced from $101,084 to $97,000 for 2005-06 and then return to the original level for the subsequent two years. Musicians will vote on the proposal tomorrow, according to the Post-Gazette.
The PSO requested the new contract after posting a deficit of $500,000 for the 2004-05 season.
The 2005-06 season is the final year of the existing three-year contract. When the deal was negotiated in 2003, the PSO was struggling financially, and the two sides came up with a novel arrangement: musicians would accept two years of pay cuts, after which their salaries would return to "normalcy." Specifically, the contract called for a salary pegged to 95 percent of the average pay at four orchestras—the Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra.
Somewhat unexpectedly—especially considering the deficits faced by the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cleveland ensembles—musicians at all four groups got raises last year. The result was an increase in pay of 23 percent for the PSO musicians.
A year ago, chief financial officer William S. Hart told the paper that the PSO would have to live with the unanticipated outlay "just like we live with every other deal we make."