Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Ratifies Three-Year Contract with BSO Musicians Through 2016
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announces the settlement of a new three-year contract between the Association and members of Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians. The new collective bargaining agreement went into effect on September 9, 2013 and will extend through September 11, 2016, replacing the previous two-year contract, which expired on September 8, 2013. The successful settlement of the contract and the terms ratified by both the musicians and the Board of Directors demonstrate a commitment by both parties to uphold the BSO's long tradition of artistic excellence while maintaining fiscal responsibility. Further, after the economic downturn necessitated the renegotiation of the 2008 contract with significant reductions in compensation and benefits, this new agreement signals increased confidence in the orchestra's long-term financial outlook.
"BSO management and musicians approached these negotiations with realistic expectations and the discussions maintained a constructive tone throughout," reported BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham. "Both sides understood the imperative: come to an agreement that struck the critical balance between financial responsibility and competitiveness essential to attracting and retaining the best musicians. This contract is a vital step towards achieving these goals. Furthermore, the new contract, coupled with the extension of BSO Music Director Marin Alsop's contract through 2021, allows the board and management to focus on the planning of strategic priorities including the BSO's 2016 centennial and the campaign to grow its endowment. I especially want to thank The Players' Committee for their diligent, thoughtful work in concluding this deal."
The contract upholds the BSO as one of 17 full-time American orchestras, operating 52 weeks per year. It also secures increased flexibility on a number of work rules, enabling the BSO to offer a five-concert Sunday matinee series to take place at the Music Center at Strathmore (the Orchestra's second year-round home, located in North Bethesda), beginning in the 2014-2015 season. Annual base salary will increase by 11% from $67,600 for tenured musicians in the 2012-2013 season to $75,000 in the 2015-2016 season. Additionally, previously cut over-scale and seniority payments will be fully restored. The contract also includes increased employer contributions to retirement plans and to high-deductible medical insurance plans, coupled with a formula that shares the burden of rising medical expenses equally between employer and employees.
The costs of financing the new contract will be covered by new earned and contributed sources. The Sunday matinee concerts at Strathmore will generate an important new, sustainable revenue stream. Secondly, the BSO is in the early phases of a campaign that will grow both the Annual Fund and the institution's endowment, making the BSO less vulnerable to market volatility.
"We have worked hard to return the BSO to a position of financial stability and the ratification of this contract is a crucial step toward the continued maintenance of the BSO's fiscal integrity," reported BSO Board Chair Kenneth DeFontes. "The musicians of the Orchestra deserve our thanks for their hard work and commitment to making this contract possible. As orchestras around the country have had to interrupt programming due to stalled negotiations, the collaborative spirit in with which these negotiations took place made it possible to reach this positive outcome. We are fortunate to have an orchestra of the highest artistic caliber that is committed to serving this community. It is one of Maryland's greatest cultural treasures."
"The BSO musicians are happy that these negotiations are now behind us and we thank our board and management for their positive tone through the negotiation period," commented Players' Committee Chair Greg Mulligan. "We are delighted BSO musicians have approved this forward-looking three-year agreement, and that the contract was settled without any interruption to the upcoming season. We look forward to working with the BSO's board and management, and of course, our Music Director Marin Alsop, to continue building a world-class orchestra of which Baltimore, Montgomery County and all of Maryland can be incredibly proud."