New Jersey Symphony Musicians Accept Pay Cut

Classic Arts News   New Jersey Symphony Musicians Accept Pay Cut
The musicians and management of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra have agreed on a one-year contract that includes a 10 percent pay cut and a larger role for musicians in running the ensemble.

The musicians' weekly salary is unchanged from last season, but under the new contract they will work fewer weeks—32 this year, down from 36. (According to the Newark Star Ledger, the base salary has been reduced from $44,975 to $40,157.)

In exchange, musicians will get several voting positions on the NJSO board of trustees as well as spots on two management committees: the Guiding Group and the Education Task Force.

Musicians also agreed to participate in radio broadcast and recordings, and to perform in small ensembles as part of the orchestra's outreach efforts.

Violinist Ming Yang, the chair of the musicians' orchestra committee, said in a statement, "While this contract is concessionary for the musicians, we believe it makes great strides in providing the musicians with a stronger voice to be heard at every level of the organization. "

The agreement was reached just days before the 2005-06 season opens on September 29, but talks were apparently amicable. A statement from the orchestra pointed out that no lawyers were involved in the negotiations, and NJSO chairman Victor Parsonnet said, "The NJSO musicians and staff have demonstrated an amazing collaborative attitude and commitment to our institution in developing this contract. Unlike other orchestras throughout the nation, which frequently operate in volatile negotiating environments, the established partnership between the NJSO's musicians and management have permitted this contract to be resolved without incident."

Neeme J‹rvi, who begins his first season as music director this week, said, "I am deeply grateful to the musicians of this fine orchestra for the compromises they have agreed to so that our music-making can begin."

The NJSO posted a deficit of $892,000 in 2003-04; in July, the orchestra projected that the deficit for 2004-05 was likely to be under $100,000.

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