New York Philharmonic Musicians Agree to Years of Pandemic Pay Cuts

The New York Philharmonic, battered by a pandemic that may preserve its live performance corridor darkish for at least 15 months, introduced on Monday that its musicians had agreed to a four-year contract that features substantial wage cuts.

Underneath the brand new contract, the musicians will see 25 p.c cuts to their base pay by means of August 2023. Pay will then progressively improve till the contract ends in September 2024, although at that time the gamers will nonetheless be paid lower than they had been earlier than the coronavirus pandemic struck. In complete, the cuts will quantity to greater than $20 million in musicians’ wages, the chair of the gamers’ negotiating committee mentioned in a information launch.

The deal makes it clear that performing arts establishments anticipate their monetary ache to final, even when the pandemic subsides over the approaching months. The Philharmonic initiatives that the cancellation of its 2020-21 season will lead to $21 million of misplaced ticket income, on high of $10 million misplaced within the remaining months of its earlier season this spring; however even when dwell performances resume, the field workplace isn’t anticipated to bounce again shortly.

The brand new contract is a continuation of the short-term pay reductions that the Philharmonic’s musicians agreed to earlier within the pandemic. Since Might, the musicians have been paid about 75 p.c of base pay, which quantities to about $2,200 per week. Over the course of the contract, some musicians may also obtain progressively rising percentages of their seniority funds and “overscale,” the quantity they obtain above base pay.

The pandemic has been testing the relationships between arts establishments and their employees, as executives insist on pay cuts and different concessions to make up for the income losses amassed over months of darkened theaters. At many orchestras, musicians have agreed to short-term pay reductions whereas they’re unable to play dwell concert events. However solely at sure organizations, just like the Philharmonic, have union collective bargaining agreements occurred to run out throughout a yr when establishments are beneath such stress.

“These had been difficult negotiations,” Deborah Borda, the orchestra’s president and chief govt, mentioned within the information launch, “however, in the long run, musicians, administration and board got here collectively to achieve an settlement that may result in restoration.”

The trombonist Colin Williams, the chair of the gamers’ negotiating committee, mentioned within the launch, “In recognition of the challenges of this time, we’ve got carried out our half to assist protect the establishment by forgoing greater than $20 million of our wages.”

The cuts that the musicians agreed to are just like these being requested on the Metropolitan Opera, which has asked for 30 percent pay cuts from a number of of its main unions till field workplace reaches pre-pandemic income ranges, at which level the cuts will likely be diminished to 15 p.c. For Philharmonic musicians, the cuts will shrink to 10 p.c over the past yr of the brand new contract. The deal additionally contains bonus funds beginning in 2022 if the orchestra’s monetary efficiency exceeds expectations, in addition to a provision for as much as 10 Sunday performances per season. (The Met launched regular Sunday matinees final yr.)

Tensions have been a lot greater on the Met than on the Philharmonic. Roughly 1,000 full-time workers on the opera firm, together with its world-class orchestra and refrain, have been furloughed with out pay since April, and the Met says they’ll solely begin receiving paychecks in the course of the pandemic if they comply with long-term cuts.

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