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Home » Orchestra News » Virginia Symphony Orchestra Ratifies Collective Bargaining Agreement After Challenging Negotiations

Virginia Symphony Orchestra Ratifies Collective Bargaining Agreement After Challenging Negotiations


In July, the musicians of the Virginia Symphony ratified a three-year agreement that is retroactive to August 1, 2018, and continues through July 31, 2021. The CBA covers 49 core musicians and 29 per-service musicians, represented by Local 125 (Norfolk, VA).

Negotiations were difficult and lasted nearly a year. The committee successfully fought proposals to eliminate a currently filled core position, reduce per-service guarantees, and cut a week from the season. Some gains were made, including bringing the per-service rate back to parity with the core rate. The contract calls for small raises each season, putting base salaries just over $32,000 by 2020-2021. New language allows musicians to apply for up to 40 days unpaid leave per season. However, orchestra size, compensation, and minimal leave remain at levels that are unsustainable.

During the course of negotiations—and despite the fact that the Virginia Symphony is in the midst of an endowment campaign and has been balancing its budgets and reducing accumulated debt—the committee saw disappointing strategic plan proposals from the board that would cut orchestra spending.

As it prepares for its centennial season in 2020-21, the organization is in flux, seeking both a new music director and associate conductor.

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