Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization Approves New Contracts

The musicians of the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization (SSOPO) have ratified new contract agreements after 15 months of negotiation with Symphony and Opera managements. The new contracts, valid until August 31, 2015, include concessions from the musicians in salary and healthcare benefits, growth in the pension benefit, and new media agreements.

“The Musicians of the Seattle Symphony orchestra persevered through these lengthy negotiations because we saw the potential benefit to the entire Seattle Symphony family,” said Tim Hale, chair of the SSOPO. “We were able to address our respective concerns in creative and affirming ways that move the institution forward and allow the musicians to continue to dedicate our time and talents to the community.”

The new agreement calls for a salary cut of 5.5 percent for the remaining 10 weeks of the 2012/2013 season. Musicians’ salaries will be frozen in the 2013/2014 season with a base pay of $81,450 and will then increase 4.6 percent in 2014/2015. The length of the season, 45 weeks, remains unchanged.


Additional details of the agreement include:
  • Musicians of the SSOPO elected to fund the first year of a pension benefit increase, which will rise 10 percent over three years, from a musician-managed fund of pooled royalty payments.
  • Musicians made progress toward rebuilding the orchestra to its contracted size, yet agreed on some concessions by not filling all available positions.
  • A new media agreement provides more flexibility and opportunity for growth than previous agreements, allowing live recordings at concerts.
  • In each season, musicians will donate to the Seattle Opera one simulcast, which is free to the public.
  • Musicians agreed to adjustments in healthcare benefits, providing savings for Symphony and Opera managements.

“The musicians are willing to give management more flexibility and freedom because of their support for the initiatives it would allow,” said Hale. “With the new contract, management has greater freedom to schedule the orchestra, from adding a new educational concert series to expanding existing initiatives like the popular, late-night 'Untuxed' series.”

“This agreement begins the process of reversing previous concessions,” added Hale. “The musicians are the number-one stakeholders in the Seattle Symphony. We are committed to its longevity, its continued vitality, and to performing great music at the highest level.”

The SSOPO was represented by members Geoffrey Bergler, Kathleen Boyer, Zart Dombourian-Eby, Jeff Fair, Xiao-Po Fei, Mara Gearman, Jennifer Godfrey, David Gordon, Tim Hale and David Sabee. The SSOPO wishes to thank its attorneys, Susan Martin of Martin & Bonnett and Ronald Knox of Garvey, Schubert & Barer, and Peter Pastreich for mediation services.

 
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