An 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.