Detroit Symphony Orchestra Musicians and DSO ratify new three-year contract agreement

- Third consecutive contract negotiation to reach early resolution; new agreement secures commitments through 2023

DETROIT, (January 30, 2020) – The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and its musicians announced the ratification of a new contract today, seven months prior to the current contract’s expiration on September 6, 2020. The new agreement – the third consecutive to reach an early resolution – resulted from a truly collaborative effort between the members of the joint Negotiations Committee accomplished over several highly constructive bargaining meetings. 

The three-year agreement includes a scale increase totaling 5.1 percent over the previous contract, plus one additional performance week (39 weeks beginning in the third year of the new contract, up from 38), with total guaranteed compensation going from $98,524 in year three of current contract to $105,481 in year three of new contract. Additionally, the new agreement provides for increased cost sharing of health insurance premiums and expands paid family leave for musicians. The new contract between the DSO and the members of Local 5 of the American Federation of Musicians goes into effect on September 7, 2020 and extends through September 5, 2023.

A tentative agreement was reached on January 10, approved by the DSO Board of Directors on January 23, and ratified by the musicians of the DSO on January 26. The terms of the agreement fit within the parameters of the DSO’s ten-year plan for fiscal and artistic sustainability that was instituted in 2013. Securing this new contract enables the DSO to continue presenting outstanding music at Orchestra Hall, across Metro Detroit, and throughout the world via its Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, as the orchestra prepares to welcome its new Music Director Jader Bignamini beginning in the 2020-2021 Season.

“The DSO family is energized by the news we’ve been able to share in 2020, and this latest outcome is another example of why we feel so positive about all that lies ahead,” said Anne Parsons, President & CEO. “Whether you hear our extraordinary musicians in our world-class, 100-year-old concert hall or listen to them on your laptop, we know their music connects you to something bigger and reaffirms our shared sense of community. As we prepare to usher in a remarkable new era for the DSO and our city with the introduction of Jader Bignamini as the orchestra’s next music director, this third straight early contract resolution with our musicians serves as a springboard to a wide-open future. The DSO has a bold vision, and when we believe in something – when we put the full force of our people, place, and purpose behind an idea – the impact is palpable. I want to thank all members of the Negotiations Committee for achieving this agreement and for believing in all we can accomplish as we work together toward shared goals.”   

“The musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are thrilled to again have a new contract ratified ahead of schedule,” said Principal Horn Karl Pituch on behalf of the musicians on the joint Negotiations Committee. (Pituch, plus Principal Timpani Jeremy Epp, Violinist Will Haapaniemi, Cellist Peter McCaffrey, and Principal Librarian Robert Stiles.) “Building on the values of respect and trust earned through the previous two negotiations, we were able to come to a mutual agreement that will help move this orchestra forward to a bright future. Our main goal as the musicians’ negotiating team is to reach a contract which can attract the world's best musicians to Detroit and keep them in our orchestra. We feel that this contract will help us continue doing that. We would also like to thank the hard-working DSO staff and our outstanding Board of Directors. I would like to personally thank the musicians who served on this negotiating team. They were diligent, creative, and great representatives of the orchestra. We would like to thank our attorney Kevin Case for his wisdom and negotiating skill. We would also like to thank George Troia and Local 5, American Federation of Musicians, for their support of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Most of all we thank our loyal supporters who have stayed with this orchestra through good times and challenging times. It is our greatest desire as musicians to bring beautiful music to the people of Metro Detroit.”

“Everyone at the DSO – board, musicians, and staff alike – are stewards of an incredible legacy of artistic excellence and commitment to our community,” said Mark Davidoff, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “This agreement shows that when we continue to work in a collaborative manner, with transparency and open communication, that we can accomplish anything we set out to do in support of this legacy. I applaud the members of joint Negotiations Committee on reaching an early resolution for a third straight time.”

Agreement At-A-Glance

  • Contingent of 88 musicians beginning in year two of the new contract (up from 87)
  • Annual scale increase of 5.1 percent over three years
  • 39 weeks of performances in year three of the contract (up from 38) plus 4 weeks of vacation
  • Total orchestra compensation, inclusive of salary and all benefits, fits within the parameters set forth by the DSO’s ten-year plan towards fiscal stability (Blueprint 2.0)
  • Increased cost sharing of health insurance premiums
  • Expanded paid family leave
  • Continues “optional work” model allowing DSO musicians to offer community engagement services with performances in hospitals, senior living communities, schools, and other venues
  • Maintains donated services, whereby musicians have offered to donate 4 services per year in part to support high-profile, revenue-generating performance opportunities
  • Continues stipend payment for musicians for the 10 non-work, non-vacation weeks (9 weeks in year three)

Members of the Negotiations Committee were: Jeremy Epp, Principal Timpani; Kathryn Ginsburg, Senior Director of Operations and Orchestra Manager; Will Haapaniemi, Violin; Linda Lutz, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Peter McCaffrey, Cello; Karl Pituch, Principal Horn; Erik Rönmark, Vice President and General Manager; and Robert Stiles, Principal Librarian.

Ms. Parsons, Mr. Davidoff, Board Officer at Large Hon. Kurtis T. Wilder (Ret.), and Trustee Margaret Winters served as advisors to management. George Troia, Jr., President of Detroit Federation of Musicians, AFM Local 5, and attorney Kevin Case, representing the musicians, also participated.

“In celebrating 100 years of our Detroit Symphony’s home Orchestra Hall,” said Mr. Troia, “we are pleased to ensure the growth and stability of our orchestra as an artistic pinnacle for years to come."

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank all the members of the Negotiations Committee,” said Mr. Wilder. “The negotiations were marked by a high level of transparency and respect, the sign of a healthy institutional culture that has grown and been maintained over the past several years. For the third straight time, the result is a mutually beneficial agreement reached months ahead of schedule that will help the DSO continue a high level of artistic excellence while staying within the parameters of our ten-year plan for financial stability.”

About the DSO

The most accessible orchestra on the planet, the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra is known for trailblazing performances, collaborations with the world’s foremost musical artists, and a deep connection to its city. As a community-supported orchestra, generous giving by individuals and institutions at all levels drives the continued success and growth of the institution. Italian conductor Jader Bignamini was named the DSO’s next music director in January 2020, beginning with the 2020-2021 season. Conductor Leonard Slatkin, who recently concluded an acclaimed decade-long tenure at the helm, now serves as the DSO’s Music Director Laureate, endowed by the Kresge Foundation. Celebrated conductor, arranger, and trumpeter Jeff Tyzik is the orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor, while the outstanding trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard holds the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Jazz Creative Director Chair. Making its home at historic Orchestra Hall within the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center, the DSO offers a performance schedule that features Classical, PNC Pops, Paradise Jazz, and Young People’s Family Concert series. One of America’s most acoustically perfect concert halls, Orchestra Hall will celebrate its centennial in 2019-2020. In addition, the DSO presents the William Davidson Neighborhood Concert Series in seven metro area venues, as well as a robust schedule of eclectic multi-genre performances in its mid-size venue The Cube, constructed and curated with support from Peter D. & Julie F. Cummings. A dedication to broadcast innovation began in 1922, when the DSO became the first orchestra in the world to present a radio broadcast and continues today with the free Live from Orchestra Hall webcast series, which also reaches tens of thousands of children with the Classroom Edition expansion. With growing attendance and unwavering philanthropic support from the people of Detroit, the DSO actively pursues a mission to embrace and inspire individuals, families, and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences.