Oregon Symphony and musicians union agree to landmark contract

May 10, 2018

The Oregon Symphony and the American Federation of Musicians (AFofM), Local 99, through its representatives, have ratified a landmark contract extension, nearly four months before the expiration of their current contract.

A new, four-year collective bargaining agreement guarantees additional work for Symphony musicians, who will perform more concerts for the communities of Oregon and Southwest Washington. As a result of these additional performances, musicians’ total compensation will increase by 16.5% over four years. The agreement also maintains full coverage of health care premiums for musicians and their dependents, subject to a cap on future increases to the plan. The contract runs through the 2021/22 Season.

“This agreement is a major win for everyone involved,” said Oregon Symphony President Scott Showalter. “We are investing in our musicians, while doing more for the communities that we serve.”

The Symphony began to revitalize its programming in 2014, following years of financial setbacks, budget cuts, and wage concessions by musicians and staff. Under Showalter’s leadership, the Symphony has increased the number of classical subscription performances by 20%, while connecting with new audiences through a wide range of music genres and innovative visuals and program themes. The result has been four years of consecutive growth in box office sales, individual giving, and new patrons. The Symphony’s 2017/18 budget is $20 million.

Beginning in the 2019/20 Season, the Symphony intends to grow the total number of performing weeks from 38 to 40, and to extend the number of classical subscription weeks from 16 to 18. Strategic plans also call for more pops concerts, special concerts, and community programs. Currently, the Symphony produces more than 250 education and engagement events each year in schools, libraries, neighborhoods, correctional facilities, retirement homes, churches, and homeless shelters.

The musician’s negotiating committee stated, “The musicians of the Oregon Symphony are proud of their contributions to the organization, both on stage and off. It is through their collaborative efforts with the Association that we have been able to grow the organization, improve outreach to the community, and provide for a more progressive contract for the musicians.”

Oregon Symphony Board Chair Bob Harrison added, “I’m personally grateful to all the musicians and staff. With continued support from our community, this contract can help us to build for the future of arts and culture in our region.”



The multi-Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony ranks as one of America’s major orchestras. Led by Music Director Carlos Kalmar, it serves over 300,000 people annually through more than 100 performances and award-winning education and community engagement programs. Now in its 122nd year, the Oregon Symphony is the oldest orchestra west of the Mississippi.

An unprecedented 2016/17 Season broke records in virtually every category, drawing historic attendance and revenue. These numbers were propelled by a 20% increase in the number of classical concerts, three groundbreaking SoundSights concerts, and the broadest-ever range of repertoire. The season additionally reached nearly 12 million radio broadcast listeners via All Classical Portland as well as American Public Media’s SymphonyCast and Performance Today, and included two commissioned world premieres. Its 2017/18 Season builds on this success in a trailblazing new series, The Sounds of Home, which combines music and art to reflect on three critical issues in our community – immigration, the environment, and homelessness.

Season subscriptions, including Choose Your Own packages and Gift Cards, are available through the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office at 503-228-1353. Photos for media use are available at orsymphony.org/newsroom.