At the end of July, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) ratified a three-year contract that goes into effect September 1. It is the first progressive contract that CSO musicians, members of Local 103 (Columbus, OH), have seen in more than 10 years.
In 2010, CSO hit a financial crisis and musicians took drastic cuts in order to keep the orchestra from shutting down. The orchestra was bailed out by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, which extended a line of credit and took over some orchestra operations. Musician salaries have remained mostly stagnant since the concessions made eight years ago.
In spring 2018, with the stability of the organization continuing to improve (concert attendance, for example, increased 9% last season), the organization restored employer group health insurance. Musicians took the opportunity to continue the conversation, and negotiations began in an effort to restore wage scales and work weeks. Increases achieved include raises that will average 3.5% each year, as well as weeks added to the season. One week will be added in each of 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, bringing the total to 28 weeks by the third year of the contract. Orchestra size will remain 47 musicians.
“We still have a very long way to go toward restoring all that we lost, but with this new agreement, we are finally moving in the right direction,” says Doug Fisher, a CSO bassoonist and president of Local 103. “This new agreement speaks volumes about the hard-won progress the Columbus Symphony has made to stabilize itself as an organization, allowing it to now move forward and begin rewarding those committed to its long-term success. We look forward to all the exciting things ahead for the Columbus Symphony and are proud to be a part of it.”