Without the extension, the contract would have expired next summer.
Salary increases in the extended contract are minimal: less than 1 percent in the first two years and 3 percent in the third year. The original contract provided for a 7.7 percent raise in 2005-06, which has been eliminated; this season's salaries will be the same as in 2004-05. The base salary remains $76,900 for a 45-week season, with the Seattle Opera's season as an optional extra three weeks or more.
In 2006, the musicians will pay 25 percent of their health-insurance premiums, and there will be deductibles instituted for family members. The pension plan will not change.
Other contract provisions include the possible cancellation of the second installment of the orchestra's Made in America Festival, unless major support can be found, and the participation of at least two musicians in any music-director search committees.
Scott Wilson, chair of the orchestra committee, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "We are talking concessions. This is not a wonderful new contract, but it is something we think is the best path forward in times that haven't been good and will give management breathing space."