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Strike Averted For Seattle Symphony Musicians

Amy Radil

When Itzak Perlman takes the podium at Benaroya Hall Thursday night, the stage will be full — thanks to a last–minute contract agreement between the Seattle Symphony and its musicians' union.


Symphony musicians had threatened a possible strike this week, as contract negotiations dragged on. But in the end the musicians secured a less drastic paycut, and a shorter contract than symphony management first offered. Under the three–year contract, musicians will see a salary cut of 5 percent this year, with salaries restored to current levels in 2011. The symphony had said more dramatic pay cuts were necessary to instill donor confidence and address the symphony's debts. Instead, musicians have agreed to donate $2,000 each back to the symphony, which will ask other donors to match those funds.

Tom Philion is the Seattle Symphony's executive director. He calls the musicians' gift a catalyst for other contributions.

Philion: "The funds we're going to raise to match the gift from the orchestra, we'll ask for them as above and beyond regular contributions from some of our donors. For example, we had a number of board members today write out checks immediately to support this effort, and those gifts are above and beyond the regular annual commitment."

The symphony has many transitions on the horizon — Philion is leaving his job in June, and the symphony is searching for a new music director to take the helm when Gerard Schwartz departs next spring. Symphony players wanted a shorter contract in part because of the coming changes.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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