Dallas Ratifies A Two Year Agreement, Maintains Substitute Parity

The latest group to settle from our list of mid to large budget orchestras with expired agreements is the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO). Their two-year agreement contains three percent increases in base musician wages in each year along with a one-time $750 payment to each musician at the onset of the agreement’s term.

Adaptistration People 022And like a number of other professional orchestras, the DSO will launch a joint musician/board/staff task force to explore options for ongoing health benefits, however, the task force is only responsible for providing recommendations as opposed to enacting any actionable endorsement. The agreement also contains modest modifications to work rules, updates to definitions, and side letter extensions. The DSO issued a brief press statement on 9/25/15 with quotes from the employer and employee representatives but very few details otherwise.

One welcome item of note is the DSO continues to be only one of a dozen International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) ensembles to maintain substitute parity (readers interested in learning more about this topic can dig into the Equal Pay-Equal Work topic archive).

Here’s an updated version of the fourteen mid to large budget orchestra and opera organizations with a collective bargaining agreement that expired within the last three months; six down, eight to go.

  1. Chicago Lyric Opera 6/30/2015
  2. Chicago Symphony 9/13/2015
  3. Cincinnati Symphony 9/13/2015
  4. Cleveland Orchestra 8/30/2015
  5. Columbus Symphony 8/31/2015
  6. Dallas Symphony 8/31/2015
  7. Florida Orchestra 8/31/2015
  8. Fort Worth Symphony 7/31/2015
  9. Grand Rapids Symphony 8/31/2015
  10. Milwaukee Symphony 8/31/2015
  11. New Jersey Symphony 8/31/2015
  12. Philadelphia Orchestra 9/13/2015
  13. San Antonio Symphony 8/31/2015
  14. Utah Symphony 8/31/2015

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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