Good News Out Of Seattle

Adaptistration People 088An article by Janet Tu in the 3/26/2018 edition of The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and its musicians recently came to terms on a new four year collective bargaining agreement. By the end of the new term, musician base salary will increase 11.4 percent.

But what’s really interesting is language about a major change to the musicians’ defined benefit pension plan.

I’ll be reaching out to musician and employer representatives to learn more, so we’ll circle back to this in more detail toward the end of April.

Until then, here’s how the Seattle Times article describes the pension plan changes:

Under both the current and new plan, those who’ve worked at the Symphony for at least 30 years are guaranteed at least $31,680 a year in post-retirement pension benefits. Under the new plan, those who’ve worked less than 30 years are guaranteed at least slightly more than the current $1,056 per service year.

Clear as mud, right?

Fortunately, the official SSO press statement provides more detail.

The pension plan remains a defined benefit plan but with a new funding model using a relatively new plan, the Milliman Sustainable Income Plan (SIP). The SIP has predictable and consistent employer costs while providing the musicians with the potential for increased benefits over time, even in retirement. The Seattle Symphony is the first orchestra to adopt the SIP on behalf of its musicians.

I’m looking forward to learning more and given how hot a topic pensions are right now, this is bound to be an intriguing examination.

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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