Philadelphia Orchestra contract negotiations continue as strike looms

Philadelphia Orchestra
Local 77 and the Philadelphia Orchestra/Kimmel Center are in talks on a new contract.
Kimmel Cultural Campus

Negotiations between the Philadelphia Orchestra and the American Federation of Musicians Local 77 continued Tuesday, after the musicians turned down a management proposal Sunday – the day their contract expired.

Local 77 members voted to authorize a strike last month, meaning union officials could call for musicians to walk off the job at any time if talks break down.

A federal mediator has been leading the bargaining sessions since last week, said Ashley Burke, chief communications officer for the orchestra and Kimmel Center, which merged two years ago.

No musicians voted in favor of the contract offer put forward over the weekend, according to Local 77. The proposal “failed to come close” to members’ salary expectations and did not address their concerns with the orchestra’s benefits package, the union said in a statement.

Jessica Griffin

Local 77 also objected to changes to the musicians’ parental leave program and the inclusion of a code of conduct that union officials believe would muzzle members.

Orchestra management said its offer included a 13.5% raise, a $10,000 bonus and an increase to the minimum pay, bringing it to $172,887 over the next two years.

But Local 77 said the salary proposal would not bring the orchestra, considered one of the top in the nation, in line with its peer musical ensembles.

The orchestra is scheduled to next perform Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the University of North Carolina before returning to Philadelphia for its season opener at the Kimmel Center with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on Sept. 28