Philadelphia Orchestra sets contract after strike mars gala
03 Oct 2016 - 9:06
New York: The Philadelphia Orchestra late Sunday sealed a contract with its musicians, ending a strike that was brief but marred opening night for one of the leading US classical music institutions.
The musicians' union had voted to strike Friday just moments before the orchestra was to perform for the annual black-tie opening gala, dramatically airing concerns in front of coveted donors.
The management of the symphony orchestra, led by star Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin, said it reached a three-year contract that includes a two percent salary raise the first year followed by successive 2.5 percent annual hikes.
"This agreement is a demonstration that we are moving forward together to ensure that the Fabulous Philadelphians will be playing for generations to come," orchestra president Allison Vulgamore said in a statement, referring to the 216-year-old ensemble by its local nickname.
The musicians' union confirmed it ratified the contract but hoped to win more in three years time, saying that salaries were still low compared with those of other major US orchestras.
The union in a statement said it went on strike reluctantly but "felt that, after years of decline which threatened to become irreversible, this was the only way in which we could call attention to a situation we regarded as desperate."
After the cancellation of weekend concerts, the musicians will return Tuesday with free "audience appreciation" performances at locations across the fifth most-populous US city.
The orchestra, which emerged from bankruptcy four years ago, will pay musicians an annual base of $137,800 after the raises.
US classical music institutions have fallen on especially hard times since the 2008 financial crisis as they rely heavily on donations, unlike European counterparts that enjoy generous state funding.
In recent years both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have locked out musicians amid contract disputes.
Philadelphia is considered one of the big five US orchestras and is known for its global reach.
In 1973 it became the first US orchestra to perform in China amid a thaw in relations and again this year went on an extensive tour of China and Japan.