5-year-collective bargaining agreement that’ll carry the Grand Rapids Symphony
through the rest of the decade and through its 90th anniversary season
has been ratified.
between the Grand Rapids Symphony Society and the musicians of the Grand Rapids
Federation of Musicians includes pay raises of 1 to 3 percent over the next
five years and partially restores employer contributions to the musicians’
retirement plan, which were suspended in 2009 at the height of the economic
Rapids Symphony’s board of directors unanimously approved the contract on April
five-year contract in place is good news for the entire community of Grand
Rapids, said Kate Pew Wolters, chairperson of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s Board
“As a city consistently recognized nationally as one that is
vibrant and growing, I count the Grand Rapids Symphony as one of our greatest
cultural assets,” Wolters said. “The roles that our musicians play, not just on
the stage, but as contributing members of our community can be seen in our schools,
as tutors and as mentors.”
“As we look forward to our 87th season, the board applauds the
partnership that has led to this vision of growth and sustainability,” she
preserves the orchestra’s present 40-week season and makes no changes to the
orchestra’s health insurance.
the previous agreement expired at the end of August 2015, orchestra operations
continued under its provisions while negotiations continued.
concerts in the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series and a salute to the
movie music of John Williams on the Fox Motors Pops Series are yet to come in
the 2015-16 season continuing through May.
successful conclusion of our negotiations will help the symphony and its superb
musicians continue to enrich our community at a high level of excellence, while
supporting ongoing efforts to assure the orchestra's long-term strength and
positive direction,” said Grand Rapids Symphony President Peter Kjome.
to provide seniority pay in recognition of years of service, which wasn’t part
of the previous contract, will take effect in September. It provides for additional
pay for all rehearsals and performances for musicians beginning with their
sixth year of service and increasing every year afterward.
season, new fewer than eight Grand Rapids Symphony musicians are celebrating
major anniversaries of 25 to 40 years in 2015-16.
contributions to the musicians’ 401(k) also will resume in September, beginning
with a 2 percent contribution, rising to as much as 4 percent in the final year
when matched with a 2 percent contribution from the players.
contributions to the 401(k) and seniority pay are commonly found among
ensembles whose musicians are members of the International Conference of
Symphony and Opera Musicians, which represents the Grand Rapids Symphony among 52
of the largest orchestras in the United States.
"The musicians were mindful of an industry
standard since becoming members of ICSOM in 2013,” said Paul Austin, a French
hornist and co-chair of the negotiation committee for the Grand Rapids
Federation of Musicians. “Having comparable benefits, such as the return of a
401(k) contribution and establishing a seniority pay system will keep the GRS competitive
with peer orchestras and attract top talent to join the Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids Symphony has 50 full-time, contracted positions with three
positions currently held open, and about 30 part-time positions on its roster.
The new agreement outlines efforts to raise additional funds to help add
full-time musicians to the ensemble.
It’s a development
that violinist Diane Helle, co-chair of the negotiation committee, called “extraordinary
musicians are pleased, after months of talks with the Grand Rapids
Symphony Society, that our shared vision for the orchestra includes a
commitment to increase the number of full-time musicians, continuing the
exciting work of building the great orchestra that this community deserves,”
labor agreement smooths the way for the arrival of the Grand Rapids Symphony’s
next music director. The search for a successor to David Lockington, who
stepped down from his post in May 2015 to become music director laureate, is
expected to culminate within the next couple of months.
eighth and final guest conductor of the season, Marcelo Lehninger, returns to DeVos
Hall to lead the orchestra on April 22-23. The Brazilian-born conductor made
his Grand Rapids Symphony debut last season.
eight of the guest conductors are possible candidates to become the 14th
music director in Grand Rapids Symphony history.
newly signed, five-year contract will go a long way to attract the best of the
best,” added Mary Tuuk, a member of the GRS board of directors and co-chair of
the search committee. “And it’ll pave the way for a new era of artistic
excellence and community vibrancy.”