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Home » Orchestra News » Boston Symphony Orchestra Ratifies New Labor Agreement

Boston Symphony Orchestra Ratifies New Labor Agreement


The musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, members of Local 9-535 (Boston, MA), ratified a new three-year labor agreement that went into effect on August 24, 2020, and runs through August 27, 2023. In response to COVID-19-related revenue loss of $35 million, the agreement includes a compensation reduction averaging 37% in the first year of the contract, but increases in compensation over the course of the agreement will occur as the BSO redevelops sustainable revenue.

The agreement includes an expanded definition of official BSO work “quota” services, to include concerts, rehearsals, promotional activities, and involvement in community engagement activities, some of which is work that can be safely performed at home. Also, starting in the fall of 2021, there will be the establishment of the BSO Resident Fellowship Program—an excellence-based training program for early career orchestra musicians from historically underrepresented populations. The one-to-two-year program will provide opportunities for young musicians of color to study with BSO musicians and perform with the BSO and Boston Pops in their Symphony Hall seasons in Boston, as well as participate as Fellows in the Tanglewood Music Center, the BSO’s summer music academy.

A joint statement by Patrick Hollenbeck, president of Local 9-535; James Markey, chair of the BSO Players Committee; and Mark Volpe, BSO president and CEO, said the new labor agreement reflects their “collective understanding” of the recent financial and safety challenges facing the BSO.

“By addressing these challenges on the compensation level, as well as in several other areas, the BSO’s new labor agreement acknowledges the part the musicians are playing in the overall cost-saving measures to ensure the Boston Symphony Orchestra emerges from the pandemic as a vibrant and essential institution for its loyal music community,” the statement says. “It was especially gratifying to come to an agreement on the importance of redefining official services beyond rehearsals and concerts during this time of hiatus from live performances and beyond. In a departure from the standard labor agreement subjects, management and musicians worked enthusiastically together on the creation of the BSO Resident Fellowship Program for young musicians of color—a program that we hope will inspire much needed optimism.”

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