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RPO Approves New Musicians' Contract

November 19, 2008

Three-Year Contract Provides Salary Increase Closer to “Peer Orchestras”

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra announced today that a new three-year contract for its musicians has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors.  Last week, the RPO musicians voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract with a vote of 62 to 3.  The major highlight calls for a 14.4 percent salary increase over the course of three years, bringing wages closer to parity within the industry to “peer” orchestras with similar size and revenues as the RPO.  The contract is retroactive to the start of the 2008-09 Season.  In 2007-08, the base salary for first-year RPO full-time core musicians was $38,610.  By the end of the third year of the RPO’s new contract, the base salary will be $44,070. 

“The RPO musicians are extremely appreciative of the Board of Directors’ commitment and responsiveness to our concerns,” said David Angus, the RPO’s third horn and President & Secretary-Treasurer of the Rochester Musicians’ Association, Local 66 of the American Federation of Musicians.  “The nearly unanimous vote was reflective of the positive and cooperative nature of the negotiations.”

The graduated increases over three years – 3.5 percent; 4.5 percent, and 5.5 percent – follow the anticipated gains in revenue growth projected in the RPO’s three-year Transformation Plan adopted this summer by the RPO Board.  The Plan aims to eliminate the RPO’s structural deficit – financially stabilizing the organization – through the revenue and growth opportunities provided by the renovated Eastman Theatre.  In 2005, the musicians’ three-year contract provided for modest increases of 1.9 percent, 2.3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

“Having achieved many of the goals set forth in the RPO’s last strategic planning effort which focused on building the organization’s capacity to grow revenue, we now are committed to refocusing our priorities on our core artistic product and the musicians who so magnificently bring that product to our community,” said RPO President & CEO Charles Owens.  “Both sides believe that this new contract is a huge step in recognizing and rewarding our musicians, as well as being competitive in attracting and retaining the finest players.”

Celebrating its 86th season in 2008-09, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music, presenting nearly 200 performances each season to a combined audience of an estimated quarter of a million people, including more than 70,000 who experience the RPO’s broad range of educational and community programs.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

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