PACIFIC SYMPHONY MUSICIANS REACH CONTRACT AGREEMENT WITH ORCHESTRA MANAGEMENT
Pacific Symphony musicians-members of the Orange County Musicians Association, Local 7, of the American Federation of Musicians (AF of M)-and Symphony management are pleased to announce they have reached agreement on a new four-year collective bargaining agreement that includes modest wage increases and other elements, which will provide more employment opportunities for the musicians. Negotiations between the Symphony and its musicians began a couple of months before the orchestra's last labor contract expired on Aug. 31, 2012, and, due to scheduling challenges and complex discussions, required approximately a year to conclude. During this period of "play and talk," both sides worked hard to find fair and equitable solutions while maintaining a collegial atmosphere. The four-year contract is effective through Aug. 31, 2016. Throughout the collective bargaining period, the Symphony's performance schedule continued without interruption.
"The board of directors, Music Director Carl St.Clair and the staff are very pleased to have achieved a four-year contract with our musicians and the Union, which invests in artistic quality, while being mindful of the need to maintain fiscal sustainability," says Symphony President John Forsyte. "The musicians generously agreed to a wage freeze for the first two years of the agreement, at the same time that the Symphony will provide some additional rehearsal and concert opportunities."
The contract froze wages this past season and this year in response to economic challenges, but will increase by 2 percent next season (2014-15) and 3 percent in the final six months of the agreement (2015-16). Management also agreed to increase the number of rehearsals for classical concerts and to hire additional string players for family programming.
"It was gratifying to work with these very committed and creative artists in the spirit of joint problem solving," says Forsyte. "While the talks were, at times, very challenging, I appreciated the collegial tone with which the negotiations were undertaken. I thank Local 7 of the American Federation of Musicians and the orchestra representatives who were at the table for their dedication to the process and the excellence of the organization. We all recognize, however, that none of these efforts could be sustained without the generosity and interest of the Orange County community. Through the perseverance of volunteer leaders, they have nurtured the formation of the largest orchestral organization founded in the country in the last 50 years."
Robert Sanders, president of the Orange County Musicians, Local 7, AF of M, added: "This was not an easy negotiation, but when one looks around the country these days, things could have been much more difficult. Here, both sides of the table bargained hard, in good faith and at great length. The good news is that we are now agreed and the musicians have ratified the agreement. This agreement will allow Pacific Symphony to continue making great music for a great community."
AF of M negotiator, Chris Durham stated: "John Forsyte and the board of directors of Pacific Symphony continue to set an exemplary standard of arts management in leading one of the great U.S. orchestras. We thank all of our patrons and fans for their tireless support and dedication to keeping great artistry in the forefront of Southern California."
The Symphony board of directors has remained committed to raising funds and growing revenue to support an orchestra that has national stature, while balancing the budget of the Symphony each of the last 23 years. At the same time, it is a point of pride that the Symphony has maintained its recording and commissioning program of new American music, continued to produce highly regarded multidisciplinary festivals, and expand its educational and community engagement offerings, throughout the years of the recession. It has, however, proven increasingly difficult to meet budgetary demands in the current economic environment and in light of the changing habits of cultural consumers. The Symphony relies on the generosity of largely individual contributors for over 50 percent of its annual budget. Less than 1 percent of its budget is supported by government sources. The remainder of the budget comes from ticket revenue, contracted services (ballet, run-out concerts and choral), and a small endowment relative to its operating budget.
The Symphony has a budget of more than $19 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year, and its mission is to enrich and inspire the community through outstanding performances of symphonic music and community engagement.