The San Francisco Symphony (SFS) announced today that the Board of Governors and musicians of the Orchestra have approved and ratified a new 26-month collective bargaining agreement. The agreement sets a course for the Orchestra’s future artistic and audience growth and represents a new partnership that charts a path toward a financially sustainable operating model and demonstrates an enhanced commitment to serve its community.
The new agreement includes increases in weekly base pay and changes in health care benefits and enhances the orchestra’s ability to attract and retain not only the most talented musicians, but also an audience facing an ever-wider variety of entertainment options. It expands the commitment to the artistic development of the musicians, by enlarging the Orchestra’s instrument loan program, the pool of funds available to finance the purchase of their instruments, already the largest program of its kind in the country. Increased flexibility of scheduling will allow the SFS to create new types of programming to reach new audiences and expand the concert experience in Davies Symphony Hall and beyond.
The agreement also outlines a new process for sharing information among the musicians, Board of Governors, and administration on an ongoing basis to maintain trust, respect and understanding between the members of a sustainable arts organization. The administration and musicians are committed to working with a third party on an ongoing basis to improve communication and seek a cooperative spirit to address future challenges and opportunities. A shared commitment to grow audiences and serve our community includes broadening musicians’ involvement in fundraising, marketing and audience development activities.
Negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement began in September 2012. The previous agreement expired November 24, 2012 and was extended by mutual agreement to February 15, 2013. A tentative agreement on a new contract was reached March 31, 2013 and has now been ratified and approved by the full Orchestra and Board of Governors. Over the course of the 26 months of the agreement, musicians of the SF Symphony will receive a 4.5% increase in salary, with current minimum weekly compensation of $2,725 and increasing to $2,850 by the end of the contract.
“The success of the San Francisco Symphony lies in the dynamic partnership among the musicians, Michael Tilson Thomas , the careful stewardship of the board, hard work of the staff, and the enthusiastic and consistent support of our community,” said Sakurako Fisher, President of the SF Symphony. “This agreement represents a significant amount of collaboration and a recognition that only a shared vision and a true partnership will propel our outstanding 100-year-old orchestra toward an even greater future. We remain deeply gratified by our community’s exceptional commitment to our orchestra and to the arts.”
“The musicians of the San Francisco Symphony recognize the important qualities of partnership and collaboration that defines all successful orchestras,” said violist David Gaudry, Chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee. “Everything we do is for our audiences. We love what we do, and we want to keep providing our listeners the highest level of musicianship, be active in growing our community, and ensure the long-term artistic vitality of our great orchestra.”
“This new agreement recognizes the immense talents and dedication of our musicians and underscores our commitment to their well-being on every level,” said Brent Assink, SF Symphony Executive Director. Their artistry shapes and enriches the cultural landscape of our community in meaningful and far-reaching ways. I want to express my thanks to Dave Gaudry and the musicians’ negotiating team for their many long hours of collaboration on this new contract. I would also like thank the Board Labor Relations Committee, the entire Board of Governors, and our hard working staff. But most of all, I deeply appreciate the patience and ongoing support of our Bay Area community, touring partners, and fans around the country during the past few weeks. We all have a stake in the success of this institution and we look forward to strengthening our partnership to move the orchestra forward.”
The Orchestra’s negotiating committee was chaired by David Gaudry and included Rob Weir, Cathy Payne, Linda Lukas, and Nanci Severance. Also participating was David Schoenbrun, President of Musicians’ Union Local No. 6 of the American Federation of Musicians. Susan Martin of Martin and Bonnett acted as counsel to the musicians. Negotiating for the SFS administration were Executive Director Brent Assink, General Manager John Kieser, Human Resources Director Ken Auletta, Chief Financial Officer James Kirk, Orchestra Personnel Manager Rebecca Blum, and attorney Curt Kirschner of Jones Day.