Richmond Symphony Announces New Four-Year Contract with Musicians

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From the press release desk, the Richmond Symphony sent out this announcement today:

The Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Musicians’ Association, Local 123 of the American Federation of Musicians are pleased to announce jointly that the Board and musicians have ratified a new four-year collective bargaining agreement, through Aug. 23, 2022.

The new contract, covering the 2018/19, 19/20, 20/21 and 21/22 Seasons, guarantees annual wage increases of 1.5%, 1.5%, 2.0% and 2.5% respectively, with the salaries of section musicians increasing to $36,847.20, associate principals to $42,010.80, and principal musicians to $47,901.36 by the final year of the agreement.

Continuing to nurture the Richmond Symphony’s growth as a leading regional orchestra with an excellent national reputation, its management and union have agreed to prioritize in the new contract the conversion of four positions within the orchestra from ‘per-service’ to ‘core’ (essentially, from part-time to full-time) over the period of the agreement – increasing the full- time ‘core’ complement from its current 37 to 41 musicians. The first two to be converted will be the Principal Tuba and Second Horn, which will be sustained over the long term by the growth of the Symphony’s endowment.

The Symphony is currently in the final stages of a $12M capital campaign, which has already included and enabled the conversion of a per-service cello position to core by the creation of the $500K Kenneth and Bettie Christopher Perry Foundation Cello Chair, now held by Schuyler Slack.

The remaining $1M to be raised in the capital campaign includes three elements designed to help underwrite the new contract and support the musicians: building the new John R. Warkentin Fund which underwrites musicians’ salary increases and helps individual Richmond Symphony musicians in times of emergency and personal distress; establishing a new Core Expansion endowment fund; and matching a $250K challenge grant by George and Luzi Wheeler who, it can now been announced, have generously agreed to name the Second Horn Chair through a new endowed fund. The Richmond Symphony and its musicians join in extending warmest gratitude to John Warkentin and to George and Luzi Wheeler for their leadership support; and welcome all donations to the capital campaign, to help accomplish these goals.

“We are very happy with terms of our agreement with the Union.” said Leon Roday, the Richmond Symphony Board’s Negotiating Committee Chair. “We are particularly excited that a 4 year agreement provides a lengthy and stable environment for the Symphony and its musicians to focus on providing great entertainment for our patrons. Kudos to the musicians for their successful desire to expand by 4 the permanent members of the Orchestra along with cost of living increases for musicians. We thank all our supporters for their commitment to the sustainability of the Symphony for years to come.”

“The Musicians are delighted that the Board is willing to tackle the expansion of the full-time Core of players, which we consider vital to the artistic growth and future of the orchestra, and we are pleased by the many other changes that will enhance both the music-making and the working relationships in our wonderful organization.” said Alison Hall, Orchestra Negotiating Committee Chair and Richmond Symphony Violinist. “We feel very hopeful that this is the beginning of a renewed confidence and cooperation among our Musicians, Management, and Board, so that we can move forward together towards greater excellence, and greater usefulness to the City of Richmond.”

As part of the new contract, musicians have agreed to formalize and expand their role in supporting the Symphony’s fundraising and marketing initiatives. “We greatly appreciate our musicians’ willingness to support our efforts to create outstanding experiences for our audiences, not just by their superlative performances on stage but by their focus with us on building our base of public support.” said Richmond Symphony Executive Director, David J.L. Fisk. “As we prepare for the next decade, including the hosting of the Menuhin Competition, the Olympics of the Violin, in 2020, and the selection of a new Music Director, having musicians, Board and staff working together in harmony will enable us to accomplish great things in service to the citizens of Richmond, the wider region, and the Commonwealth.”

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