Philadelphia Orchestra musicians reach agreement, end strike

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Orchestra musicians and its leadership have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year contract that includes salary increases each year.

The Philadelphia Orchestra Association announced the agreement Sunday.

Musicians had staged a walkout Friday night, canceling an opening night performance that about 1,000 had come to hear. They said they hoped to reverse what they called “the shameful decline of our treasured institution.”

Officials say new terms include a salary increase of 2 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent in each of the next two years. That would bring the musicians’ base pay to $137,800 in the third year.

Additional compensation can also be made tied to the orchestra’s financial success.

The board will vote on the contract Tuesday.

Musicians met to ratify the agreement earlier Sunday.

Orchestra officials had characterized the walkout as coming at “the crest” of a turnaround since the orchestra filed for bankruptcy protection more than five years ago, citing a 28 percent increase in earned revenue and a 44 percent increase in contributed income. In a statement, they also cited the hiring of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, beginning his fifth season as music director, and efforts to increase community service and broaden audiences through new technology.

After the cancellation of Friday night’s gala concert, one of the season’s biggest fundraisers, the orchestra association’s gala dinner for about 550 went on as planned in the lobby of the Kimmel Center as musicians picketed outside in a light rain, the Inquirer reported.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians also went on strike Friday after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15 percent pay cut. Symphony managers said the orchestra is running a $1.5 million annual deficit and faces more than $20 million in cumulative debt over the next five years, and the pension fund needs at least $10 million over the next five years to remain solvent. They proposed freezing pensions for musicians with less than 30 years’ experience and moving them into a 401(k) plan.