Philadelphia Orchestra Deal Includes Wage Freeze, More Concerts

Classic Arts News   Philadelphia Orchestra Deal Includes Wage Freeze, More Concerts
The tentative contract agreement reached by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association and its musicians early yesterday morning includes a one-year wage freeze and new work rules allowing for more concerts, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The full membership of the musicians union will vote tomorrow on the terms of the contract, hammered out with the help of mayor John Street in a series of sessions that ended with an all-night marathon starting Monday night, November 15.

According to the Inquirer, the deal calls for a wage freeze in the first year of the contract and raises of 6.4 percent and 4.6 percent in the subsequent years, with the minimum salary rising to $117,520 in 2006-07. At that point, musicians would be making more than their counterparts at the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and New York Philharmonic, all of whom recently signed new contracts.

The new work rules call for the addition of four Sunday concerts per year as well as more family concerts and student concerts. In addition, musicians agreed that the orchestra could be divided up and play in two locations simultaneously.

The contract initially reduces the number of full-time musicians‹a cost saving measure sought by management‹but then restores it to 106 by the third year. In another money-saving step, the American Federation of Musicians, rather than the orchestra itself, will administer musicians' pensions.

Finally, musicians agreed to reduce their fees for broadcasts and recordings, which the orchestra hopes will allow for a new national radio series and the release of 10 CDs over the next three years.

At an earlier stage in the talks, management had insisted in order to survive, the orchestra had to reduce musicians' pay by $1.8 million per year, either through cuts in salary or in personnel. The deal does not appear to have reached that goal. According to the Inquirer, chairman Richard L. Smoot would say only that the terms have the "potential" of leading to a balanced budget.

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