Columbus and Oregon Reach Agreements

I was going to launch the new Adaptistration platform today but news of an agreement between the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and its musicians arrived in the late afternoon so I think it is best to postpone the launch for one day in order to get the information out. As such, here are the details provided by both parties…

The CSO’s new three year agreement provides for:

  • a decrease in weeks worked from 46 to 38.
  • a reduction in the weekly base salary from $1,110 per week to $1,200 per week for musicians.
  • a reduction in pension contribution from 8.5 percent to 4 percent.
  • reductions in the average base salary from $42,180to $55,200 annualized to 38 weeks.
  • maintain 53 full-time musicians plus additional Per Service and Associate musicians.

Although performances begin at the end of October with the orchestra performing for Opera Columbus and later in 2008 for BalletMet’s Nutcracker performances, a statement from the organization claims that an “abbreviated season will formally open on January 10, 2009.” As more information is released, this topic will be examined in greater detail.

Oregon Has A New Contract As Well

Although not on the national radar to the level of Columbus, the Oregon Symphony Orchestra has had its share of ups and downs over the past decade so any new collective bargaining agreement is worth noting. Their recently ratified agreement provides a two year contract with a five percent increase in base musician compensation in the first year and what a statement defines as a “cost-of-living increase” in the second year.

Like the CSO’s new agreement, the number of full-time, salaried musicians remains unchanged for the duration of the contract at 76. The orchestra officially begins their 2008/09 season this weekend with performances of Beethoven’s’ Symphony No. 9.

UPDATE: According to a spokesperson from the Oregon Symphony, the "cost of living increase" is defined as follows (although the organization stressed that since the agreement is not yet signed by all signatories, small refinements are always still possible):

  1. The aggregate of 41 weeks’ compensation paid in the 2008-2009 season for the 76 (or 77) musicians (or what would have been payable for 76 [or 77] musicians in the event that some positions were open during the 2008-09 season) shall be multiplied by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index – All Urban Consumers – US City Average – Not Seasonally Adjusted, all items, 1982-84 = 100” from July of the preceding year to July of the current year, as reported by the US Department of Labor.

  2. The number resulting from the computation in 1., above, shall then be divided by 76 (or 77), which result shall be the minimum compensation increase per musician for the 2009-2010 season.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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