Oregon Symphony Association Board Chair Jack Wilborn today announced that the Symphony and the American Federation of Musicians, Local 99, have ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement for Oregon Symphony musicians. The contract begins retroactively from September 2015 and runs through May 2018.
“On behalf of the entire Board, I extend my deep appreciation to our musicians, our President, and everyone involved in these negotiations for their diligence and collaborative spirit. With this agreement, we will become an ever-stronger force in our community,” he said.
Shortly after he joined the Symphony in July 2014, President Scott Showalter and the union extended the musicians’ previous collective bargaining agreement, which covered 2011 through 2014, for one year. Although that extension expired in August 2015, orchestra performances and operations have continued while this new contract was negotiated.
Under the new contract terms, musicians will receive annual cost of living increases based on the Consumer Price Index average of all U.S. cities. The musicians will continue to receive full health care coverage for themselves and their dependents, along with pension contributions of 5% each year. The contract also provides for greater flexibility in rehearsal and performance schedules. Separately, the musicians’ union also ratified a new electronic media agreement, which will allow the Oregon Symphony to invest in radio broadcasts, online streaming, and recordings.
These salary increases for musicians are the first since the 2011/12 season, ending a post-recession period during which musicians and administrative staff took salary cuts to balance the budget. The Oregon Symphony has balanced its budget in each of the last six years.
Showalter noted that this contract “recognizes the musicians for their artistry, which is drawing audiences and donations in record numbers. It is a tough climate for orchestras today, but we are building a foundation upon which this exceptional orchestra will grow. I hope that we can do even more in the future.”
Since Showalter’s arrival from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Oregon Symphony has enjoyed significant growth. The 2014/15 season set records for total tickets sold, sold-out concerts, ticket revenue, new ticket buyers, donors, gift totals, and new donors. During the current 2015/16 season, the Symphony earned a Grammy nomination and expanded its broadcasts, while diversifying its concert series and producing more community and education programs. The recently announced 2016/17 season includes a 20% increase in the total number of classical performances and a 14-60% increase in the number of concerts in classical subscription packages. Advance ticket sales are outpacing last year’s sales at this same date by double-digit percentages.