Kennedy Center & National Symphony Orchestra Reach Agreement

By Francisco Salazar

The National Symphony and the Kennedy Center have reached an agreement to not furlough its musicians after weeks of discussions due to the musicians being laid off.

In a statement Deborah Rutter said, “After several days of collaborative discussions, Kennedy Center leadership and the musicians of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) have reached a new agreement, a significant step in stabilizing the institution as it faces financial challenges resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Rutter noted, “The NSO musicians have agreed to a restructure of their current contract resulting in payroll savings of nearly 35% (over $2.5 million) through early September, as well as further savings realized through a wage freeze in the 2020-2021 season and delayed wage increases for the duration of the contract. Combined, these financial sacrifices total approximately $4 million and represent a substantial long-term investment in the Kennedy Center’s future. NSO musicians and NSO management have also agreed to form a joint working group to discuss alternative ways to share new and archived NSO content during the current pandemic closure.”

The agreement also noted that the Kennedy Center was committed to covering full healthcare benefits for all its furloughed employees during the pandemic.

The Musician of the National Symphony also noted, “Musicians will not be furloughed. In recognition of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kennedy Center, however, we have agreed to modify our collective bargaining agreement to make substantial economic concessions. Our agreement also will be extended for an additional year, through the beginning of September 2024. This will provide financial stability to our musicians during this difficult time.”

On March 29 it was reported that the Kennedy Center had furloughed its musicians after receiving a $25 million stimulus. Musicians, angered by the sudden decision, noted that the decision went against the CBA resulting in discussions and negotiations throughout the week.