An article in the 1/10/22 edition of marketplace.org by Kimberly Adams caught my attention because it reported on growing tensions between salaried and traveling nurses. Nutshell: due to labor shortages, traveling nurses are earning 4x the pay of their salary counterparts for doing the same work in the same location.
All of this got me thinking about the long-standing issue of pay disparity between core and substitute musician pay.
And yes, I know the labor market between nurses and orchestra musicians is anything but a 1=1 comparison. At the same time, that doesn’t undercut the reality that without substitute musicians, all but a few professional orchestras would fail to operate under the structure of their existing collective bargaining agreements.
That’s a five-dollar word way to say that without substitutes, orchestras are screwed.
I have yet to review the slew of modifications, side letters, and renegotiated agreements with an eye toward substitute pay.
The primary reason is the desire for things to stabilize long enough to see most professional orchestras replace temporary agreements with something longer term. Once we cross that threshold, we can see what might have changed on the issue of substitute pay.
But we can’t wait forever and based on the conversations I have with operations professionals; musician shortages are a big problem…that’s only getting larger.
For now, I’m especially interested in hearing about details from musicians and admins alike. Have you noticed any changes to the way orchestras compete and/or treat substitute musicians?
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