After 15 months of negotiations—including a tense October when a musicians' strike was authorized—the Seattle Symphony and Opera Players’ Organization (SSOPO) has approved new contracts through August 2015, the union and symphony board announced today. Under the new agreement, the Seattle Symphony season will remain 45 weeks long and includes exciting provisions for live recordings online—including web access to rehearsals and concerts.
The orchestra has agreed to do more with less in the short term, staying lean at 81 musicians rather than 85 until auditions to fill the vacant spots begin next season. A projected 15 percent pay cut for the rest of the 2012–2013 season was reduced to 5.5 percent, pending a pay raise in the future. "Musicians' salaries will be frozen in the 2013–2014 season with a base pay of $81,450 and will then increase 4.6 percent in 2014–2015," the SSOPO said in a release.
What's interesting to note is the union's willingness to be flexible with its performance schedule, allowing for more untraditional (and innovative) concerts like the late-night "Untitled" chamber music series in the Benaroya lobby, shorter Symphony Untuxed performances, a pro bono performance to accompany a free Seattle Opera simulcast, and a new educational series that brings students and symphony musicians together in concert. It seems a vote of confidence in the direction the symphony has taken under the leadership of artistic director Ludovic Morlot. We'll see how it plays out.
Past coverage: Contract Extended for Seattle Symphony, Opera Musicians