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Press Release 6/25/12 | Musicians New Contract


Agreement reached more than one year ahead
of current contract’s expiration

The St. Louis Symphony and the American Federation of Musicians, Local 2-197, announced an agreement on a new four-year labor contract today.  The agreement was reached fourteen months prior to the expiration of the current contract, providing five years of labor stability for the St. Louis Symphony. The new contract goes into effect on September 2, 2013 and runs through August 27, 2017.

The key components of the new four-year agreement include:

  • Annual minimum scale increases from $81,892 in FY13 to $86,053 in FY17, or 5% over the life of the contract in increments of 0%, 1.0%, 2.0%, and 2.0%, averaging 1.25% annually
  • A 1.5% increase in pension contribution rate over the term of the new agreement
  • Work-rule adjustments that will allow for scheduling additional concerts including Live at Powell Hall events, an increasingly important and growing part of the St. Louis Symphony concert business

Due to other expense savings and in keeping with a strong cost control strategy, total musician expense is projected to increase 3.6% over the life of the new contract, averaging 0.9% (less than 1%) annually.

Fred Bronstein, St. Louis Symphony President and CEO, said, “While the current contract does not expire until September 1, 2013, we believed it was in the interest of the Symphony, its musicians and the community to undertake an early negotiation with a goal of reaching agreement one year in advance of the expiration of the current agreement.  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.”

Timothy Myers, Chair of the St. Louis Symphony Musicians’ Negotiating Committee, said, “The musicians of the orchestra entered into these early negotiations because we saw the potential benefit for all constituents.  Both sides were calmly able to address our respective concerns in ways that move the institution forward.  With this new agreement, we are pleased to demonstrate our good faith to lovers of classical orchestral music, as well as to the donor community.  The musicians have spoken; we want stability for the St. Louis Symphony.  We expect that this new collective bargaining agreement will lay a foundation for continuing the excellence that Symphony musicians, concertgoers, and the community expect.”

Vicky Smolik, President of the Musicians’ Association of St. Louis, Local 2-197, A.F.M., said, “We are delighted that our members exercised their democratic right and voted to accept this agreement.  We see this as a step forward to help the management of the St. Louis Symphony to build its financial base, thereby ensuring the continuation of this premier St. Louis cultural asset.”

Bronstein added: “Most importantly, the agreement reached will now provide for five years of labor stability. Beyond the term, the agreement itself allows us to move compensation forward for the orchestra on a conservative financial path, one that is completely consistent with our financial plan and disciplined financial parameters within which we must operate, particularly in these challenging economic times.  I want to express my deepest gratitude to members of the orchestra and the Musicians’ Association for their wisdom and appreciation of the importance of long-term stability, as well as their recognition that a sound fiscal approach keeps the St. Louis Symphony moving forward in a positive and productive way which benefits the community at large.” 

In 2008, the St. Louis Symphony launched its strategic plan which has focused on building revenues while controlling expenses in order to reduce structural operating gaps over the long-term.  Since its inception, for example, ticket revenues have increased 39%, while overall paid attendance has grown 16% driven by a 14% increase in per-concert average attendance. Going forward, the financial plan continues to focus on all revenue streams as well as cost controls in order to continue to strengthen the financial underpinning of the St. Louis Symphony.