Big deal in Detroit: Early, collaborative talks earn unprecedented resolution – 8 months prior to expiration of current contract.

 The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) and its musicians announced the ratification of a new contract today, nearly eight months prior to the current contract’s expiration on Aug. 31, 2014. The new agreement resulted from a remarkably constructive series of as few as nine bargaining meetings, described by Joint Negotiations Committee members as “respectful,” “honest” and “transparent.”


A tentative agreement was reached late Monday evening, Jan. 6.  It was approved by the DSO Board of Directors on Monday, Jan. 13 and ratified by the musicians of the DSO today. The terms of the agreement fit within the parameters outlined in the DSO’s 10 year plan, Blueprint: 2023. This contract represents a turning point in the history of the DSO. The terms prioritize the DSO’s legacy of artistic excellence while continuing to position this organization at the forefront of innovation and accessibility. I want to extend my gratitude to the members of the board, orchestra and staff who led an extraordinarily thoughtful, thorough and constructive negotiations process.

This settlement is testament to the union of all stakeholders coming together to define our new reality while investing together in the future of the DSO and the renaissance of Detroit. This is yet another beacon of success sounding brightly from the Woodward corridor, among other triumphs including attendance records, a balanced budget, our passionate donor base and now this early contract settlement. All of this is made possible by joining together in our One DSO culture: a shared set of values inspiring us to steward the legacy of our beloved organization while innovating a brilliant future.

The agreement between the DSO and the members of Local 5 of the American Federation of Musicians will take effect Sept. 1, 2014 and extend through Aug. 31, 2017. The news comes after a period of negotiations that focused heavily on serving the DSO’s mission of embracing and inspiring individuals, families and communities through unsurpassed musical experiences. The musicians and management also worked collaboratively to reduce health care expenses, in the interest of fiscal responsibility. More concerts at Orchestra Hall, throughout Detroit and across Southeast Michigan will further promote one of the DSO’s chief values: accessibility.

Agreement at-a-glance

•             Contingent of 87, including 2 librarians

•             36 weeks of performances plus 4 weeks of vacation time

•             Total orchestra compensation, inclusive of salary and all benefits, fit within the parameters set forth in Blueprint 2023: over the life of the new contract, the total investment in the musicians of the DSO will increase 5.3 percent over the previous, three-year agreement

•             Most Accessible Orchestra on the Planet: The Integrated Media Agreement, which allowed the DSO to become the first orchestra in the world to offer a series of free live webcasts in 2011, will remain in force

•             Community Engagement Services: DSO musicians’ work at the DMC Children’s Hospital, senior living communities, schools and other community venues will continue through an extension of the “optional work” model provided for in the current contract

•             Neighborhood Residency Initiative: Seven neighborhood residencies established in Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Canton, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe, Southfield and West Bloomfield Township will continue to serve our patrons across metro Detroit with subscription concerts featuring specialized repertoire and intimate chamber recitals programmed by the musicians themselves

•             Special Events: The orchestra musicians have offered to donate 4 services per year in pursuit of high-profile, revenue-generating performance opportunities