Monday, November 10, 2014

Settlement in Atlanta

Musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra have reached a settlement with the orchestra and its corporate parent, the Woodruff Arts Center, ending a lockout of the musicians that began 2½ months ago.

The new four-year contract, negotiated with the participation of federal mediators, calls for a 77-member orchestra in the first year, with a “goal” of 81 players in year two, and “commitments” to complements of 84 musicians in year three and 88 “by the end of year four,” according to a statement released by the Atlanta Symphony.

Musicians’ salaries will increase by 6 percent over the four years. They agreed to pay higher premiums for their healthcare plan.

“Over the last several difficult weeks of negotiations, both sides recognized that we all share the same goals and aspirations,” Virginia A. Hepner, chairman and CEO of the Woodruff Center, said in the statement. “[W]e all want a world class orchestra that the musicians and city are proud of and one that has long-term financial stability. We believe this new agreement is one that will allow us to achieve those goals.”

“This agreement brings the restoration of a harmonious relationship within everyone’s grasp based on work we must do together to restore missing positions in the Orchestra while stabilizing and advancing the financial position of the Woodruff Arts Center and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” said Paul Murphy, the orchestra’s associate principal violist and president of the musicians’ negotiating team.

The symphony’s board has committed to “additional, extraordinary financial support [that] gave us important flexibility as we finalized the new agreement,” Hepner said. The orchestra, which has operated in the red for 12 years running, ran a $2 million deficit on an operating budget of $37 million in its 2014 fiscal year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Atlanta Symphony will launch its 70th anniversary season on Nov. 13 and 15, with Robert Spano, its music director, conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with soloists and the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, with concertmaster David Coucheron as soloist.