In late October, the musicians of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra (KCOHO) and Washington National Opera (WNO), members of Local 161-710 (Washington, DC), ratified modifications to the third year of their agreements that expire on August 31, 2021.
Musicians had previously agreed in April 2020 to a 25% cut in all scale wages for the period from May 1 through August 31, 2020. By June, management signaled they wanted to have economic conversations about the 2020-21 season. Nothing was proposed until mid-September.
Initially, WNO sought a 27% reduction in the annual guarantee, and a freeze in wages based upon unmodified 2019-20 rates. Having successfully resisted several attempts in recent years to reduce annual guarantees, it was important that this guarantee not be decreased in this modification, so musicians instead accepted a pay reduction, which was commensurate with that accepted by their colleagues of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). By pointing to standards established in NSO bargaining, KCOHO and WNO musicians were able to keep larger concessions at bay, thanks in part to the hard work of the NSO musicians at their bargaining table. The two current contracts expire August 2021.