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December 1, 2014IM -
After a two-month lockout, musicians and management of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) reached an agreement on a new four-year contract in early November. The contract, negotiated with the help of federal mediators, does not call for any pay cuts; in fact, wages will increase by 6% over the four years. Musicians will contribute more toward their health care plan.
The most controversial issue during negotiations was management’s initial refusal to commit to a fixed number of musicians covered in the contract. Ultimately, the musicians succeeded in ensuring that an appropriate number is maintained in the orchestra complement. The agreement guarantees 77 musicians this season (up from 76 last season), states that management will make best efforts to bring the number to 81 next season, and calls for 84 and 88 musicians in the third and fourth years, respectively.
ASO’s 70th anniversary season opened soon after the contract was ratified, with the orchestra performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
“This agreement brings the restoration of a harmonious relationship within everyone’s grasp, based on work we must do together to restore missing positions in the orchestra, while stabilizing and advancing the financial position of the Woodruff Arts Center and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” says violist Paul Murphy of Local 148-462 (Atlanta, GA), president of the musicians’ negotiating team.
“We are grateful and humbled by the incredible outpouring of support displayed for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra from our community, as well as across the country and around the world,” adds cellist Danny Laufer, also of Local 148-462, who served as vice president of the negotiating team. “The unwavering support for the musicians, and the ASO as an institution, by both Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles, never can be fully expressed in words, but we are grateful to have such inspiring artistic leaders both on and off the stage.”