Published in Breaking News

Grand Rapids Symphony ratifies five-year contract with players

BY MiBiz Staff Tuesday, April 05, 2016 06:17pm

GRAND RAPIDS — After 11 months of negotiations, the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians have reached an agreement.

The new five-year contract was approved by both parties on April 4, and follows a seven-month period of performing without a contract, as MiBiz previously reported.

The contract will re-introduce employer 401(k) contributions, which were suspended in 2009. It will also implement annual pay raises of 1 to 3 percent and seniority pay in the 2016-2017 season. This means musicians that have been with the symphony for six years or longer will receive additional pay for all rehearsals and performances.

"The musicians were mindful of an industry standard since becoming members of ICSOM (International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians) in 2013,” said Paul Austin, a French hornist and co-chair of the negotiation committee for the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians, referring to the new benefits.

Certain terms of the contract remain unchanged from previous years, with the symphony holding on to its 40-week performance season and its current health insurance plan. The current roster, with 50 full-time and 30 part-time positions, will hold steady as well.

The agreement “represents a shared commitment to advance the work of our great orchestra,” Grand Rapids Symphony President Peter Kjome said in a statement.

“The successful conclusion of our negotiations will help the symphony and its superb musicians continue to enrich our community at a high level of excellence, while supporting ongoing efforts to assure the orchestra's long-term strength and positive direction,” he said.

The symphony also hopes that the positive direction of the contract will help in its search for a new music director, following the retirement of David Lockington last year.

“The newly signed, five-year contract will go a long way to attract the best of the best,” said Mary Tuuk, a member of the GRS board of directors and co-chair of the search committee.

The contract will expire in August 2020.

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