The Seattle Symphony management has just announced, via press release, that it has reached a tentative agreement with the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization for a three-year contract. The agreement still needs to be ratified by the players’ union, but the SSO management sounds upbeat. It’s hard to decipher why, as details are scant.
The release does promise that management and the players are committed to working together to better the orchestra – and all that predictable, feel good claptrap – but it does not specify the status of salary cuts and hiring freezes proposed by management in a December 29 offer (read more on that in the current issue of City Arts Seattle). The little bit that the proposed agreement does detail is, well, kind of weird. To wit:
The agreement includes an unprecedented up-front contribution by the musicians to the Seattle Symphony’s Annual Fund. In a new initiative named The 2010 Challenge, each of our 84 musicians will contribute $2,010. This donation, totaling $168,840, from the musicians is intended to be a catalyst for the Seattle Symphony Board’s next phase of fundraising.
It’s laudable that players would offer to serve as the catalyst for a fundraising effort, but the fact that such a move is the only tangible bit of information to come out of this tentative agreement makes the musicians sound, well, weak. I, personally, would like management to tell us what their plan for the players is.
Read the full press release here.
[UPDATE: Zach Carstensen, who authored the piece on the Symphony in the February issue of City Arts, spoke with SSOPO spokesman Dale Gluck and unearthed some more details on the agreement: "The contract is shorter (23 months with the option of another 8 according SSOPO spokesman Dale Gluck) than the five year agreement management proposed. Musicians must endure an immediate 5% across the board salary reduction for the rest of the season, returning to the current scale in 2011." There's more. Read his full post here.]
Illustration by André Mora for City Arts