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Musicians to vote Tuesday on contract

Saturday, September 20, 2003

By Andrew Druckenbrod, Post-Gazette Classical Music Critic

The Pittsburgh Symphony musicians will vote Tuesday on a proposed three-year contract that includes a 7.8-percent cut in wages for two years, but increases wages in the 2005-06 season to 95 percent of the average of the Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Philadelphia symphony orchestras' wages.

The base salary for the first two years will drop from $90,220 to roughly $83,000, but it could rise upward of $103,000 in the third year, based on projected increases in salaries of the four orchestras.

"The proposal was recommended by the negotiating committee," said musicians' spokesman Zachary Smith. The musicians, who received details of the proposal yesterday, will not meet again until they vote Tuesday at Heinz Hall.

"We want our colleagues to have time to absorb the whole context of the proposal; however, the orchestra committee believes this contract is in the best long-term interest of the organization," Smith said.

The proposal also calls for a decrease in vacation time from 10 weeks to eight and diminishes the scope of the music director in auditions from veto power to a single vote.

Smith and other musicians described yesterday's meeting as calm and professional. "They listened attentively, asked insightful questions and then went home to prepare for the season-opening concert," he said of his colleagues. The meeting lasted much of the afternoon.

PSO Chairman Richard Simmons and President Thomas Todd had no comment on the proposed contract.

If ratified, the contract's terms would be retroactive to Sept. 1. The contract would expire on Aug. 31, 2006. The musicians are members of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 60-471, also known as the Pittsburgh Musicians Union.

Andrew Druckenbrod can be reached at or 412-263-1750.

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