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October 14, 2015

Philadelphia Orchestra Players OK Deal, but for Just One Year

Philadelphia Orchestra musicians approved a new contract Monday, but the unusual deal lasts only 12 months and appears to have been adopted with reservations, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pending a vote by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association board, the pact will increase the ensemble from 95 to 96 members — still well below its size before a 2011-12 bankruptcy — and raise base salaries by 3 percent. The musicians' negotiating committee did not formally recommend the deal to rank-and-file members and warned that players could jump ship if pay does not keep pace with that of other major U.S. orchestras.

Most past deals had three- or four-year terms. Players said they felt pressure to OK the shorter pact and avert a strike that would have threatened an imminent Carnegie Hall performance. John Koen, chairman of the members' committee, said the contract "is an improvement, a very small one," on the previous agreement, reached amid the bankruptcy proceeding, which included steep pay cuts. "But we're still very far behind."