Philadelphia Orchestra Musicians Ratify New Contract

By Francisco Salazar

The Musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra have voted to approve a historic three-year collective bargaining agreement.

The new contract comes six weeks after the expiration of the musicians’ prior contract and violinists Dara Morales and William Polk, Bassists David Fay and Nate West, flutist Olivia Staton, and bassoonist Holly Blake served on the negotiating committee, with support from the American Federation of Musicians, Local 77 President Ellen Trainer and Vice President Marjorie Goldberg.

The new contract will go into effect immediately, with salary increases applied retroactively.

According to a press release, the contract states that the musicians will see a 15.8 percent compounded base salary increase with a  6 percent increase beginning in Year 1 of the contract, a 4.5 percent increase in Year 2 of the contract, and a 4.5 percent increase in Year 3 of the contract.

The contract also addressed Vacancies and Filling the Complement by noting that the POKC will increase the number of musicians it hires in each year of the contract, as well as improvements to processes for scheduling and conducting auditions, to ensure that the Orchestra once again meets its full, contractual complement of 105 musicians and two librarians.

The contract will also support Substitute and Extra Musicians with an increase in pay for substitute and extra musicians, who now will make 100 percent of what full-time musicians make per service by Year three of the contract.

There will also be protections for the Orchestra’s Librarians, Personal Day Protections, Travel Protections that guarantee that a travel agency that specializes in symphony orchestra touring will plan and execute logistics for tours, and Overtime Protections.

The contract also specifies sound check regulations that ensure that they are not effectively used as unpaid rehearsals and regulations for media reporting.

There are also regulations for Retirement Benefits Concerts, Health and Safety and Work Preservation.

In a statement, David Fay, who has played double bass in the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1984 and is chair of the Orchestra’s Members Committee, said, “We are an ensemble, and we stuck together and refused to accept substandard deal after substandard deal. This contract is a victory for the present and future for the Philadelphia Orchestra and its world-class musicians. It includes the largest base salary increase that we have seen in recent memory, necessary improvements to work rules, and pay parity for the substitute and extra musicians that work tirelessly to preserve the sound of our ensemble. We appreciate the leadership of our musical director Yannick Nézet-Séguin whose deep respect for us as musicians was evident in his support for a fair contract. This has been a tough process, but one that I know has made the musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra incredibly proud.”

The new contract is set to expire in September 2026.