St. Louis Symphony Musicians Approve New Contract, Ending Two-Month Work Stoppage
By Ben Mattison
The musicians of the St. Louis Symphony voted yesterday to ratify the new contract agreed upon by management and union leaders last week, the orchestra announced. The vote ends a work stoppage that began on January 3 and led to the cancellation of 18 subscription concerts.
The vote was 56-36, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The new contract runs through September 7, 2008, and calls for a minimum annual salary of $74,000 in 2005-06, $75,000 in 2006-07, and $76,000 in 2007-08. In addition, the orchestra will pay musicians a signing bonus of $2,5000 immediately and a "stay bonus" of $4,000 at the end of the contract. The minimum weekly pay for the rest of the current season will be $1,550, which is equivalent to an annual salary of $80,600.
The terms of the contract are a considerable improvement over the offer that musicians rejected on January 3, which reportedly called for a salary of about $72,000, less than $73,900 that the musicians made previously. At the time, SLSO president Randy Adams insisted that a raise would not be fiscally responsible.
In a statement released last night, however, he said that the deal "not only preserves our artistic goals but helps maintain our fiscal responsibility for future generations.”
“I’ve indicated from the very start of these negotiations how professional our musicians have been throughout," he added. "These negotiations were never about musician quality or worth, but about philosophical differences. I’m just sorry it took this long to reach a common ground.
Jan Gippo, a flutist and the chairman of the musicians' negotiating committee, said, “We are relieved that this interruption of providing music for the St. Louis community has come to an end and look forward to returning to Powell Hall this weekend."
Concerts will begin again on Friday, March 4, when Jerzy Semkow leads an all-Mozart program featuring Symphonies Nos. 34 and 39 and the Divertimento, K.136. The program is repeated on March 5.
The new contract did not apparently bring tension between musicians and management entirely to an end. According to the Post-Dispatch, musicians passed a motion of no confidence in Adams at a meeting on Saturday. But Gippo said that any conflicts with Adams were an internal matter that would be resolved.
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