TAMPA — In surprisingly quick fashion, the Florida Orchestra board and musicians have negotiated a labor agreement before the 11th hour.
"A three-year contract and months ahead of time, the first early settlement in the history of the orchestra," said principal timpanist John Bannon, who chaired the American Federation of Musicians committee representing orchestra players.
The new contract has modest pay increases, with a base salary of $29,034 for 25 weeks of work in 2012-13. The base will increase to $32,000 for 26 1/2 weeks in the final year. In the current contract, which expires Aug. 31, the equivalent base is $27,805 for 24 weeks.
The agreement was reached more than four months before the 2012-13 season opens. Previous negotiations went down to the wire, not completed until the season was about to begin or even under way, necessitating "talk and play" conditions.
CEO Michael Pastreich praised "the collaboration and innovation" reflected in the settlement. He cited a new compensation format and introduction of a "dark week stipend" when musicians don't work.
The agreement was announced Thursday evening after the orchestra's annual meeting at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. It was ratified by musicians in a vote this week.
The contract covers 66 full-time musicians, down from 80 some years ago. Sub and extra pay rises from $115 to $134 per service (rehearsals and concerts) over the contract. In addition to base pay, individual musicians may negotiate for more. The concertmaster and principal players get paid above minimum salary.
Among more or less comparable orchestras to the Florida Orchestra with recent contract settlements, musicians of the Buffalo, N.Y., Philharmonic Orchestra will be paid a minimum of $41,420 for 38 weeks in 2012-13, according to the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians; the Alabama Symphony base next season is $38,059 for 40 weeks.
At the top of the classical music food chain, a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will earn at least $135,980 for 52 weeks in 2012-13.
John Fleming can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716.