August 8, 2014



(PORTLAND, Ore.) – With a musician contract set to expire in late August, new President and CEO Scott Showalter made it his first priority to join the musicians and their union at the bargaining table. The parties met just days after his arrival and agreed to a contract extension until September, 2015. During this time, musician salaries will remain at current levels.  

In announcing the agreement, Showalter said: “The congenial relationship that exists among the Oregon Symphony family is impressive and bodes well for our collective future. I appreciate the eagerness of the musicians and the union to bring these negotiations to a quick and positive conclusion. With this agreement in place we can focus on building relationships that will ensure the Symphony’s future.”

“It was a very positive experience to be able to sit with Scott, so soon after his arrival, and be able to finalize this agreement,” said Bruce Fife, President of the American Federation of Musicians, Local 99. “We look forward to continuing and expanding the collaborative approach that has been adopted, to ensure the future health and vitality of this important institution and its talented musicians.”

At the negotiations, the Symphony acknowledged and thanked the musicians for their actions during the last fiscal year, which included a give-back of the musicians’ 2013/14 premium pay; the temporary deferral of a planned recording of Haydn symphonies; the temporary elimination of pay for unused personal leave; and the temporary suspension of auditions for open positions provided those auditions are held prior to January 1, 2015.

These concessions strengthened the Symphony’s balance sheet, enabling it to move forward with auditions for open violin, trumpet, viola and bass section positions. Auditions are already scheduled for this fall. Filling these chairs will bring the orchestra to within one of its full complement of 76 full-time musicians, with the final vacancy to be filled following scheduled spring auditions for cello.

The musicians noted that the premium pay give-back and the delay of auditions were to be considered their contribution to stabilize and improve the current economic condition of the Symphony and as a collective gift to assist fundraising efforts to improve the financial strength of the organization.

“The musicians’ contributions—along with salary reductions from the administrative staff—were significant in helping us finish the 2013/14 season in the black,” Board Chair Karl Smith added. “They all—musicians and staff alike—have our profound thanks and our pledge to do our best to put this organization on a strong financial foundation.” 

The Symphony expects to release the complete year-end recap in late August when all the financial data has been compiled and prepared for auditors.


Jim Fullan
Vice President, Communications, Marketing & Sales