After 15 months of negotiations, the Seattle Symphony players organization and the SSO board of directors have approved a new contract, through August 2015.
Details, from the SSO:
The financial terms include concessions in musicians’ salaries for the remainder of the 2012–2013 season, a move to a more economical healthcare plan, and a temporary reduction in the size of the orchestra. This will be followed by salary and pension increases in subsequent years and the gradual restoration of vacant positions. The new contract includes a significant new electronic media agreement that will allow the launch of a new series of live recordings online and on CD, and provide unprecedented audio and audio visual access, via the Internet, to rehearsals and concerts for public engagement, promotional, educational and community purposes.
The length of the symphony season will stay at 45 weeks, and regarding that “temporary reduction” part: The minimum size of the orchestra will be reduced from 85 musicians, stated in the previous contract, to the current level of 81 musicians, with auditions planned next season to fill the openings.
“With this new agreement, we are pleased to demonstrate our good faith to lovers of classical orchestral music and to the donor community. The musicians have spoken; we want excellence, music education for our children, a vital connection to our community, and stability for the Seattle Symphony,” said Tim Hale, chair of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization, in a statement. Leslie Jackson Chihuly, chair of the SSO board, said, “We express our deep gratitude to the entire orchestra for its willingness to work creatively with us on this agreement, and for again agreeing to make concessions. Settling the contract is a great step forward and allows the entire organization to move toward our shared goals, both artistically and financially.”