Manfred Honeck
(c) Jason Cohn

Musicians and management of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra agreed upon the terms of a new five-year contract, thus ending the strike which began on September 30. The new contract runs through September 5, 2021.

PSI management and the musicians had disagreed over management’s proposals to reduce wages, transition the current defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, and reduce the number of contracted players.

The statement of the orchestra says: « The new contract calls for a 10.5% salary concession in the first year of the contract; however, a generous contribution from an anonymous donor provides for additional compensation that brings the actual wage cut to 7.5%. There is a salary freeze in the second year; a 3.3% increase in the third year; a 2.0% increase in the fourth year; and restoration to the 2016 base salary of approximately $107,000 in the fifth year of the contract. The musicians and management also agreed to transition the existing defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan. Contributions from PSI, Inc. into that new plan will be at 8% per year, with some additional contributions to those musicians most adversely affected by the transition.

In addition, the musicians and management agreed to retain an orchestral complement of 99 musicians and two librarians. However, three currently vacant orchestral positions will remain unfilled for the life of the new contract. »

“These were painful and substantial concessions,” said Micah Howard, chair of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Committee. “But we agreed to work with management to face our financial challenges head-on. Both parties came together in the spirit of true compromise, to ensure that we can resume performing at Heinz Hall.”

According to what Board Chair Devin McGranahan shared pain, the management has cut on its own side more than $800,000 from the administrative budget—including the elimination of 10 staff positions and a reduction in compensation for the CEO—representing 15% of that total budget.

On December 2 and December 4, as a special “thank you” to the community and to celebrate the orchestra’s return to the Heinz Hall stage, Manfred Honeck will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in two programs. The concerts are free, though tickets must be reserved in advance by calling the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra box office at 412-392-4900.

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