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Home » Orchestra News » Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra Reaches Agreement

Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra Reaches Agreement


In late May, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra (CSPO) musicians and board ratified a new five-year contract. The agreement follows a tumultuous year during which a proposed tentative agreement was rejected in October 2013. The negotiation process involved two committees, two negotiators, and two federal mediators.

Major sticking points included attendance policies, service guarantees, travel pay, per service pay rates, and a proposed overall rewrite of the 28-year-old CBA. The negotiating committees contended with proposals that would have eroded musicians’ rights and limited their ability to seek and accept other work to supplement their income. 

While there is some disappointment that more improvements were not achieved, the new agreement provides stability with increases in per-service rates over each of the five years (3.5%, 3.5%, 2%, 2%, 2%), as well as increases in employer contributions to the AFM-EPF and to instrument insurance. Service guarantees remain unchanged at 100 services for long-contract musicians. 

Despite an increase in scheduled performances, CSPO adamantly refused to increase service guarantees accordingly. An inaccurate sentiment remains to this day that the orchestra’s 2003 bankruptcy was caused by costs associated with the musicians’ contract. In the year of the bankruptcy, the symphony budget was projected at $3.6 million and a long-contract musician would have been guaranteed 144 services. 

During the last CSPO negotiation, in the 2008-2009 season, the organization’s budget was approximately $2.1 million; today it is approaching $3 million, with most of that growth supporting administrative costs. The lopsided increases in administrative costs compared with artistic expenditures to support new programs raise questions about the future. Musicians remain the target for controlling rising costs, and a broader vision for future growth is nonexistent. Nevertheless, the new agreement contains a number of improvements for the immediate future.

Musicians serving on the negotiating committees included Local 154 (Colorado Springs, CO) members Peter Cooper, Robert Jurkscheit, Jacob Klock, Mary Anne Lemoine (AFM Steward), Jeremy Van Hoy, Sergei Vassiliev, Jeff Watson, and Bron Wright. Negotiators were AFM International Representative Barbara Owens and Local 154 member Alan Isaacson. Local 154 President Diane Merrill was also involved throughout the entire process.  

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