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Baltimore Symphony musicians get raise in contract extension

Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Deal to extend BSO musicians' contract for a year should allow for smooth transition to a new CEO.

Three months before the expiration of the current three-year contract covering musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, management and players reached a collective bargaining agreement to extend that contract for another year.

The quietly negotiated deal gives the musicians a raise, while also providing continuity and calm while the orchestra continues to search for a new president and CEO. Paul Meecham, who has been in the post for a decade, leaves shortly to become president and CEO of the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera.

"Being in this transition between CEOs, we realized that if we were to get a new CEO in September and contract talks were going on, the timing would just be off," said BSO Board Chair Barbara Bozzuto. "We in the board just sat down and talked with the musicians about getting an extension. It was collegial. We did not use attorneys. We felt we could do it among ourselves."

The only change in the extension of the current contract between management and players (they are members of Local 40-543 of the American Federation of Musicians) involves compensation. The contract goes into effect Sept. 12, when the players will receive a 1.33 percent raise. An additional raise of 2.63 percent begins May 1, 2017.

Minimum weekly scale, which was $1,300 at the start of the current contract, is now $1,500 and will go to $1,560 next by the end of the extended contract, which expires Sept. 10, 2017. Minimum base salary will reach $79,800, a 6.4% increase over current figures.

"It's a pretty significant settlement," said violinist Greg Mulligan, chairman of the Players' Committee in the BSO. "I want to give Barbara Bozzuto and board members a lot of credit for putting so much time and positive energy into the organization to help us out."

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