Philadelphia Orchestra musicians approve contract with 15% pay cut

Posted on: October 14, 2011

“The Philadelphia Orchestra Association Thursday secured the main prize in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case: a deeply concessionary labor deal from musicians,” writes Peter Dobrin in Thursday’s (10/13) Philadelphia Inquirer. “On the cusp of the opening of the orchestra’s 2011-12 season, members of the ensemble Thursday approved a contract calling for a 15-percent pay cut, reducing the size of the ensemble, and replacing the defined-benefit pension with a defined-contribution plan. The deal was mediated under the supervision of Stephen Raslavich, chief judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and is subject to the approval of bankruptcy court. The American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund, the $1.7 billion national plan that would be jilted by the new labor deal, has pledged to fight for up to $35 million it says it will be owed if the Philadelphia Orchestra Association carries out its stated intention to withdraw from the fund. Musicians accepted the deal only ‘reluctantly,’ they said in a prepared statement, because the alternative—a potential strike—could have meant ‘additional uncertainty and harm to the members of this great orchestra.’ John Koen, cellist and chairman of the players’ negotiating team, said, ‘We hope our sacrifices for the good of the orchestra will inspire the community to demonstrate their support so that today’s approval will mark the beginning of a process of renewal and that in four years the Philadelphia Orchestra will be stronger and more financially secure than ever.’ ”

Posted October 14, 2011