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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000730.txt from 1997/12

From: Jim Lytthans <>
Subj: Six-Year Contract
Date: Sun, 14 Dec 1997 13:18:32 -0500

This bit of news was forwarded to me the other day:

December 12, 1997

Musicians, Philharmonic Reach Pact


NEW YORK -- The management of the New York Philharmonic and
of its musicians have quietly negotiated an unprecedented six-year labor
contract that experts say may point the way to new harmony in a
strike-prone industry.

The contract, which was negotiated almost a year before the musicians'
current labor agreement expires, was described as the longest ever for a
symphony orchestra and will raise minimum salaries above $100,000 for
first time in the industry. However, most musicians negotiate their own
higher pay.

Surprised players were informed of the agreement Thursday and began a
24-hour ratification period that an official of the American Federation
Musicians said was likely to end with a vote for the pact's approval

The agreement, reached in a month of intense negotiation, was portrayed
both sides as a reaction to the recent wave of orchestra strikes, in
Atlanta, San Francisco and Philadelphia -- and nearly in New York and
Cleveland as well -- that crippled performance schedules and outraged

With the existing contract running to September 1998, both sides have in
effect bought themselves labor peace for seven years.

Bill Moriarity, president of Local 802 of the musicians federation, said
the proposed contract "sets a new pattern for everybody." He called the
initial response of the orchestra's 104 members at a meeting in Avery
Fisher Hall Thursday "positive" and predicted that the conclusion of
after Friday afternoon's concert would bring ratification.

I. Philip Sipser, the labor lawyer representing the musicians, said that
a 30-year career he had never seen an orchestra contract wrapped up so
quickly, and predicted that it would become the basis for negotiation
throughout the industry, influencing talks in Boston and Cincinnati.

The key to the breakthrough, both parties said in interviews this week,
a determination to jettison the usual bargaining chips and focus on a
handful of central issues like salary and health care. Existing
for rehearsal schedules and travel time and other working conditions

left intact.

There were three main elements to the agreement, both sides said.

The minimum weekly salary would rise incrementally about 26 percent over
six years, from the current $1,560 to -- officially -- $1,980 by 2004,
although an additional stipend assures that every player will earn at
$2,000 a week, 52 weeks a year, by the end of the contract.

Pensions, now $43,500 a year, would increase to $53,000, what the
industry pay leader, the Chicago Symphony, will offer in 2000.

Health care payments would be restructured so that the players would no
longer be liable for an added $10 weekly charge per member if costs
$1.2 million a year.

In interviews last week, both sides said the agreement was driven by the
sour memories of an unusually turbulent period in the orchestra
including hostilities at the Philharmonic.

>From last year through the beginning of this year, strikes shut down the
Philadelphia Orchestra for nine weeks, the San Francisco Symphony for
weeks, the Atlanta Symphony for 10 weeks and the Oregon Symphony for 15
days. The Cleveland Orchestra barely escaped a strike and the Chicago
Symphony recently came to terms with its players after some hard

The cause of this concentrated period of restiveness is not clear. But
musicians for the leading orchestras are known to watch each others'
contracts carefully and to demand parity or better with their peers.
Because managements, even if they were inclined to, could not feasibly
replacement workers -- star first violinists are hardly as
say, as truck drivers -- players can effectively shut down a house by
walking out.

"Chicago will come into the next negotiations yelling bloody murder,"
Sipser said.

There has never been a six-year contract in the symphony industry
he said. Now, he said, "The New York Philharmonic will become the basis
negotiation in every symphony contract before the millennium."

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company


Jim Lytthans "Primo Arundo Donax!"
Principal Clarinet
La Mirada (CA) Symphony Orchestra
Claremont Symphonic Winds
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