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SPCO Musicians Ratify Two-Year Contract Extension

We’re extremely pleased to share the news that the musicians of the SPCO have voted to ratify a two-year extension of the current contract. Members of the orchestra committee and senior management have engaged in quiet conversations since June to discuss a contract extension, a year in advance of the current contract’s expiration. Nearly all terms and conditions of the current contract will remain unchanged in the extension, except for increases in musician compensation. The following press release was issued this morning:

Saint Paul, MN, September 29, 2015 — The musicians of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, represented by the American Federation of Musicians Local 30-73, have voted to ratify a two-year extension of the current contract, which was set to expire June 30, 2016. The two-year extension will become effective July 1, 2016, extending the expiration date to June 30, 2018.

For the past year and a half, several SPCO musicians have met regularly with members of the board and management for open and expansive discussions about the artistic future of the SPCO as a performing ensemble. These discussions led to quiet conversations between members of the Orchestra Committee and senior management beginning this past June to discuss a contract extension, a year in advance of the current contract’s expiration on June 30, 2016.

Nearly all terms and conditions of the current contract will remain unchanged in the extension, except for    increases in musician compensation. Musicians making less than $80,000 in total salary will receive a raise of $4,000 in the first year, with all musicians receiving a raise of $2,000 in the second year. The guaranteed minimum annual base salary will increase to $64,000 in the first year and $66,000 in the second year, an increase of 10% over two years. The size of the orchestra will remain unchanged at 28 musicians.

Orchestra Committee chair, violinist Nina Tso-Ning Fan, said “We are very pleased that the Society engaged with us in a constructive and thoughtful way, helping SPCO musicians regain some of the wages lost in the previous settlement. We have recently welcomed four new members and look forward to focusing our work this season on playing great concerts, rather than on negotiations.”

SPCO President Bruce Coppock said “This extension reinforces the commitment of both management and musicians to the SPCO’s bold artistic vision and will help ensure that the SPCO will continue to be an artistically vibrant part of this community for years to come. It was extremely important for us to make a further investment in our musicians, whose performances during the past two years have been nothing short of extraordinary. The discussions leading up to the vote approving the extension have been extremely constructive and we are deeply appreciative of the work of the orchestra members in this collaboration. In particular, I would like to thank Nina Tso-Ning Fan, chair of the Orchestra Committee and Brad Eggen, President of Local 30-73 of the American Federation of Musicians, for their leadership and collaboration in making it possible to extend the contract without formal negotiations. We also salute the collegial spirit on the part of the many SPCO principal players for taking a freeze in the extension’s first year in order to support increases for their colleagues earning lower base salaries. Helping to close the pay gap between principal and non-principal players was one of the most resonant themes of our conversations with the members of the Orchestra Committee.”

The SPCO’s 57th season, and first full season in the new Ordway Concert Hall, will continue next week with three performances of Bach’s magnum opus, the Saint Matthew Passion on Friday, October 9, Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11, conducted by Paul McCreesh, one of the preeminent interpreters of Bach’s masterpiece. At its annual meeting in December, the Society expects to make several major announcements, including that of the SPCO’s 20th balanced budget in the past 22 years. Coppock said “The labor contract extension is the capstone event of the past two seasons, during which the SPCO has attracted the largest audiences in its history, has welcomed four extraordinary new artistic partners, has opened the new Concert Hall at the Ordway, and has performed to widespread acclaim.”

The recent TPT MN Original broadcast about the SPCO’s successes the past two seasons is available at https://www.thespco.org/blog/mn-original-specials-2015/.