A news release from Canadian Press late yesterday reports that the musicians and board of the Montreal Symphony have reached an agreement that the musicians accepted by a vote of 96% in favor of accepting the proposed contract…
Of course, this news report is an early release and only contains sketchy information. Further details about the new contract will undoubtedly follow and it will be interesting to see what’s transpired. In the meantime, here’s a complete copy of the Canadian Press report:
October 17, 2005
MONTREAL (CP) – Musicians at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra have overwhelmingly accepted a contract agreement that ends their five-month strike.
The musicians, who had been without a contract since Aug. 31, 2003, voted 96 per cent Monday in favour of the seven-year deal, which is retroactive and expires in 2010. They said they received a salary increase of 18.23 per cent over the seven years as well as improved premiums and pension benefits.
The two sides reached the agreement Sunday.
“We’re thrilled because we think there’s a lot to look forward to in the new relationship with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Mr. (Kent) Nagano,” said Marc Beliveau, president of the musicians union, referring to the orchestra’s new star director, due to take over next year.
The 90-odd musicians went on strike in May to seek improved salaries and better working conditions.
“We’re looking at this ratification as the beginning of something new and really wonderful,” said Beliveau.
The musicians however did not achieve wage parity with the orchestra at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, something they were seeking.
The deal sees wage increases of 2.5 per cent annually over the life of the contract. But with additional benefits tied to recording contracts and live concerts, that number could reach as high as 4.5 per cent yearly.
The orchestra, which has a $3.4-million deficit, previously said the musicians’ average annual salary was $75,000 for 46 weeks and that their workweek was 20 hours.
But the musicians disputed the numbers, claiming the workweek was 38 hours and the base salary was $61,000, $15,000 of which they said went to the upkeep and insurance of their instruments.
The orchestra’s board of directors is headed by former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard.
The symphony’s musicians are scheduled to return to work Tuesday, practising for a concert in Montreal Sunday with Nagano.