Two-Year Agreement Reached in GR
Negotiation Committee Co-Chairs Barbara Corbato and Mark Buchner
On September 1, 2021, the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony ratified a two-year collective bargaining agreement. Effective through August 31, 2023, this agreement follows a one-year extension of the previous agreement which had been entered into during the height of the pandemic.
The musician Negotiation Committee and Grand Rapids Symphony management began meeting in February of 2021 and continued their discussions during the summer months. The two-year agreement returns the musicians’ wages to pre-pandemic pay in the first year and then has a 2% rate increase during year two. The new contract also upgrades several per-service positions to full-time and includes some work rule changes which had been agreed to before the pandemic began.
The return to pre-pandemic wages and increase of full-time positions are seen by the musicians’ Negotiation Committee as positive steps in the orchestra’s recovery from the pandemic and a homecoming to a more normal season with live audiences. The tenor of the discussions was open and collaborative, with a goal of moving the organization forward after a 2020-21 season which consisted primarily of virtual performances.
The Musicians were represented by Negotiation Committee Co-Chairs Mark Buchner and Barbara Corbato, and members Beth Colpean, Andrew Genemans, Dave Hall, Dan Karas, Jack Latta, and Victoria Olson. The committee thanks American Federation of Musicians Local 56 President Bennie Keys and attorney Kevin Case for their assistance (see our interview "Ten Questions for Arts Attorney Kevin Case" in this issue HERE).