Seven months of negotiations between the Sarasota Orchestra and its musicians ended Friday with a new, two-year contract agreement.
Both sides were far apart in September when the orchestra said it was imposing a final offer. At that time, the American Federation of Musicians union said it may have no choice but to call for a strike.
But talks heated up again this week, culminating the ratification of the new contract.
It calls for a 36-week season each year, as opposed to a 37-week season last year. That equates to a 2.5% pay cut for musicians. They were facing as much as an 8% pay cut before this contract was signed.
In the second season, if fundraising goals are met, the musicians would receive a 2.5% bonus.
The orchestra was forced to trim the length of its season because of the economy's effects on fundraising efforts. The administrative staff, which is not unionized, has seen its salaries cut from 2.5% to 10%.
“We’re all pleased to have a two-year contract signed,” said Orchestra CEO Joe McKenna. “We’re looking forward to a wonderful season.”
Said Betsy Traba, principal flute and the Orchestra Committee chairwoman: “The agreement will help ensure that the musicians … focus their energies on continuing to enrich our community through great music.”
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