Grand Rapids Symphony Ratifies 1-Year Contract Agreement With Symphony Musicians

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Grand Rapids Symphony Ratifies 1-Year Contract Agreement With Symphony Musicians

The Grand Rapids Symphony and the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians have ratified a one-year collective bargaining agreement, which continues economic provisions of the expiring contract while implementing several work rule changes.

The current contract between the Grand Rapids Symphony Society and musicians represented by the American Federation of Musicians, Local 56, expires August 31, 2020. The new contract will be in effect from September 1 through August 31, 2021.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, management and musicians were working on a multi-year contract. The uncertainties of the present situation led both sides to agree to a one-year extension of the most recent contract.

"Planning for a multi-year contract right now is no longer straightforward," said Grand Rapids Symphony President and CEO Mary Tuuk. "This one-year agreement is a prudent course of action that supports our talented musicians in unprecedented times. The agreement also reflects our shared commitment to advance the mission of the Grand Rapids Symphony over the next year."

Barbara Corbató, assistant principal violist, and Mark Buchner, section double bassist, who served as co-lead negotiators, said the musicians are pleased with the agreement.

"The musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony feel very fortunate to have the support of our Board, administration and community leaders as we all navigate these uncertain times," Corbató and Buchner said in a prepared statement. "These negotiations were collaborative and amicable, with a shared vision of working for a strong organization. This one-year extension gives the musicians a sense of stability with the knowledge that the Grand Rapids Symphony organization will be prepared to begin performing for our audiences as soon as we can do so safely."

Music Director Marcelo Lehninger said he's pleased the Grand Rapids Symphony and its musicians have reached a new collective bargaining agreement months before it takes effect.

"Successfully concluding contract negotiations allows us to devote all our energies to work hard to find creative ways to keep delivering music to our audience," said Lehninger, who has served as Music Director since June 2016. "I am extremely thankful for the support of the Grand Rapids Symphony Board, Foundation trustees, and donors, who allow us to care for our musicians in such challenging times. It makes me proud to be a part of such a united Symphony family and its special community."

Musicians ratified the contract on Wednesday, May 20, and the Grand Rapids Symphony's Board of Directors unanimously approved the contract on Thursday, May 21.

The Grand Rapids Symphony has 50-full-time, contracted positions, and about 30 per-service positions on its roster.


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