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Pasadena Symphony musicians negotiate contract, 5% raise

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This post has been corrected. See note below.

The Pasadena Symphony and Pops said Thursday that it has negotiated a new four-year contract with its musicians that will see their base wages rise by 5% over the course of the contract term. The orchestra said it negotiated the new agreement with the Professional Musicians Local 47 union.

In recent years, the Pasadena Symphony and Pops has experienced financial difficulties and internal unrest. The organization has seen the abrupt departures of two of its lead conductors -- Jorge Mester and Rachael Worby -- and has been working to pay down a debt that at one point stood at $1.2 million.

Paul Jan Zdunek, the orchestra’s chief executive officer, said Thursday in a phone interview that the orchestra successfully paid down its back debt in 2011. He said the group has seen strong ticket sales and steady support from local sponsors.

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The organization, which operates as one orchestra, comprises 85 musicians who work as freelancers and who are paid on a ‘per-service’ basis, or by the time they work during rehearsals and performances.

The new contract takes effect retroactively starting October 2011, according to Zdunek. He said wages will remain flat for the first year and then rise by 2% and 3% in the following two years. Prior to the new agreement, musicians’ wages had been fixed for four years, according to the orchestra.

The Pasadena Smphony has not had a music director since Mester departed in 2010. Zdunek said that there is no official timeline for the search. Marvin Hamlisch is the principal conductor for the Pops.

The Pasadena Symphony and Pops merged in 2007.

[For the record, 1:53 p.m. Jan 5: An earlier version of this story said the new contract is for five years. it is for four years.]

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-- David Ng


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