LSM Newswire

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Musicians of the Portland Symphony Orchestra Ratify New Four-Year Agreement

Musicians of the Portland Symphony Orchestra Ratify New Four-Year Agreement
  • All stakeholders participating in moving towards financial health
  • Terms allow for flexibility and responsiveness to future conditions
  • Utilized new negotiations template
PORTLAND, Maine The Musicians of the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO), Boston Musicians Association and the PSO Board of Trustees jointly announced a four-year labor Agreement today the first with the American Federation of Musicians in the PSO's 84-year history. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is retroactive to September 1, 2008 and extends to August 31, 2012, provides stability in Musician/Management relations for four years. The successful ratification of the Agreement is a critical piece of the Sustainability Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees in March 2009 in response to financial challenges and changing economic conditions faced by the institution.

Highlights from the new four-year Agreement include:
  • level funding of all compensatory items with the opportunity to reopen discussions for 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons if certain predetermined benchmarks of financial health are met;
  • maintaining minimum guaranteed services; and
  • modernized language which allows for greater scheduling flexibility along with new due process procedures for musicians.
Gordon Gayer, President of the PSO Board of Trustees, declared, "I am pleased and honored to announce both a landmark new Agreement that provides for stability, and also a new partnership between our Musicians, the Board of Trustees, and the Boston Musicians Association. We are deeply grateful to all the individuals involved in the negotiations for their hard work and vigilance in producing a new Agreement, particularly in these challenging times. I believe the new Agreement is an essential ingredient in moving towards financial health, while preserving the Symphony's excellence on stage and its place in the community as one of Portland's cultural gems."

"Musicians are dedicated to the long-term health and artistic growth of the orchestra," said Pat Hollenbeck, president of BMA. "We are confident that this new Agreement and partnership with the PSO will support both those priorities for northern New England's largest professional orchestra."

Robert Couture, Boston Musicians Association's Negotiator: "We are pleased to have struck an agreement that promotes the long-term fortunes of the venerable PSO, an institution that nurtures music-making as an art and recognizes its musicians as the elite professionals that they are."

PSO Executive Director Ari Solotoff said, "We were honored to draw upon a new and collaborative framework for negotiations which respected the expertise and professionalism of the parties involved. At the same time, the new Agreement establishes an interest-based model for addressing shared institutional challenges and seizing new opportunities. We are especially grateful for the leadership and counsel from our facilitators at the Harvard Law School Negotiation Project and Triad Consulting."

The PSO began the interest-based negotiation process in July 2008, funded by a grant from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. Interest-based negotiations focus on collaboratively solving problems, acknowledging interests, and creating new options for moving forward. All parties participated in an intensive two-day training session in interest-based negotiations.

The goals of the grant and new negotiations template included:
  • enhancing collaborative spirit and partnership between musicians, management, and the Board of Trustees;
  • creating a space to explore new community and artistic initiatives;
  • desire to set an example for similarly-sized orchestras to employ these techniques;
  • establishing a template for future negotiations; and
  • increasing awareness, understanding, and respect for stakeholder needs.
In February 2009, the PSO announced a series of administrative and programmatic cuts in response to its significantly deteriorated financial health. In March 2009, the PSO Board of Trustees adopted a three-year Sustainability Plan and Bridge Initiative. Combined with significant reductions in administrative expense, and through the ratification of this new Agreement, the PSO can achieve nearly $1 million, or a 30% reduction, in overall expenses. By doing so, all stakeholders have come together to support long-term financial health while maintaining high standards of artistic quality and performance.

Solotoff continued, "I have confidence that with the efforts and commitment of our Musicians, and the Sustainability Plan, the PSO can be both artistically and fiscally healthy and vibrant. This is the first stage of that process, and we are moving forward together."

Lyle Voss, PSO trustee and chair of the Negotiations Committee, stated, "When we embarked on interest-based bargaining in July 2008 we had no idea how critical this framework would be in meeting the economic challenges faced by all stakeholders. We are particularly grateful to the Musicians for their commitment to the PSO and this process."

"The Musicians are honored to be partners in future strategic planning," said Richard S. Kelly, PSO percussionist and Orchestra Committee Chair. "This new Agreement, and interest-based negotiations, have set the stage for ongoing collaboration and discussions of how the PSO can be most artistically meaningful and relevant to our community."

Negotiation Teams:


  • Richard Kelly, Percussion, Chair
  • Carolyn Cantrell, Horn
  • Sasha Callahan, Violin
  • Tony D'Amico, Bass
  • Tom Parchman, Clarinet
  • Margaret Phillips, Contrabassoon
  • John Tanzer, Tympani
  • Ari Solotoff
  • Carolyn Nishon
  • Lyle Voss, Chair
  • Alan Cardinal
  • Deborah Galarneau
  • Gordon Gayer
  • Phyllis Givertz
  • Norm Rapkin
Triad Consulting:
  • Doug Stone
  • Gillien Todd


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