The new contract includes a 4.6 percent salary cut for the current year, an unpaid week of vacation in the second year, and a three-year hiring freeze. In total, the contract will save the PSO $2.4 million, according to a statement from the orchestra.
In exchange, musicians get a temporary adjustment to pension rates and more liberal paternity and maternity leave policies.
The musicians agreed to renegotiate the contract because of the cash crisis facing the orchestra, which posted a deficit of $500,000 or more for the 2004-05 season. The situation was exacerbated by a 23 percent jump in musicians' pay included in the final year of a now-discarded three-year contract signed in 2003. That increase resulted from a clause calling for the minimum salary to rise to 95 percent of the salaries at four orchestras: Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra.
"The musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony have once again shown their willingness to sacrifice in order to help alleviate the institution's cash shortage, while maintaining our artistic standing as one of the world's greatest orchestras," said cellist Hampton Mallory, chair of the musicians' orchestra committee.
Contrary to news reports last week, the new contract was not proposed unilaterally by management, Mallory added. "Rather, it grew out of a negotiation process instigated by the musicians in response to a request by the administration to look for ways to reduce orchestra expenses for the 2005-06 season," he said. "While the musicians would have preferred to continue to receive our contracted salaries for this season, we recognized the need to deal forthrightly with the financial realities."
A committee made up of artistic advisor Andrew Davis, staff, and musicians will monitor vacancies that arise during the hiring freeze to "ensure that the artistic integrity of the orchestra is not compromised," according to a statement.