St. Louis Symphony Musicians Ratify New Contract One Year Early

Categories: Arts
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Dan Dreyfus
Fred Bronstein, St. Louis Symphony President and CEO.
The St. Louis Symphony  will continue to make uninterrupted, beautiful music through August of 2017, thanks to the presstisimo fashion in which the members of American Federation of Musicians local 2-197 approved their new contract. The current contract doesn't expire for another 14 months.

St. Louis Symphony President and CEO Fred Bronstein hailed the musicians for agreeing to negotiate earlier than necessary in the interest of stability, and noted that "The reasons for seeking an early agreement were substantive: the importance of seamless labor stability; ensuring continued confidence in our current direction from key supporters; and the critical need to be able to plan responsibly and accurately from a financial perspective for the coming years as we move forward with our strategic/business plan."

The musicians gained minimum scale increases from $81,892 to $86,053 over the life of the contract, a gain of 5 percent. They also earned a 1.5 percent increase in the pension contribution rate. The AMF agreed to work-rule adjustments that will allow the SLS to schedule more concerts, including the popular Live at Powell Hall series. This is the series that features the SLS backing up other musicians such as Kenny G, and providing live soundtracks for films such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Matrix.

These nontraditional shows are paying dividends for the SLS. Since the implementation of the organization's strategic plan in 2008, ticket revenues have increased 39% and per-concert average attendance has increased 14%.

These numbers are a vast improvement over 2005, when a work stoppage silenced the symphony for two months. The fall-out from brutal contract negotiations and impending financial troubles were documented in the Riverfront Times feature story, "Unfinished Symphony." Looking back at those dark days, it's clear that the SLS has come quite a long way in the intervening years. The future looks very bright indeed for our premier local band.

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