The musicians' current contract expires on September 20, on the eve of the orchestra's season-opening concerts. Negotiations have been contentious, with orchestra chairman Richard Smoot calling the current contract "a road map to extinction" and musicians saying that management proposals would hurt the quality of the music.
Musicians now say that they would add concerts on Sundays and at Christmas, and accept changes in their health insurance. Combined with a previously announced benefit concert with former music director Riccardo Muti, the savings and additional revenue would total $2 million‹the amount management has been seeking in annual savings.
"We still are not anywhere near the number we need," orchestra spokesman Steve Albertini told the Inquirer. "We might incorporate some of these ideas because they are wonderful ideas, but we still need to accomplish the goal of an ongoing balanced budget."
Musicians say that the orchestra should balance its budget through additional fundraising. "Look, there is some real doubt as to whether there is a long-term problem, but we're giving [management] some time to raise the money if there is a short-term problem," said Dan Fee, a spokesman for the union. "Musicians are being asked to give things up for five years, and I don't think the musicians are amenable to that."
Philadelphia Orchestra musicians currently make a minimum of $105,040. Orchestra management has proposed reducing pay by up 10 percent or eliminating up to ten of 109 full-time musicians and music librarians.