Philadelphia Orchestra, musicians reach tentative agreement

A week before the Philadelphia Orchestra begins its new season, the musicians and management have come to a tentative labor agreement.

But that doesn’t mean they are in complete harmony.

The issue of the musicians and their pension fund is the most crucial element of the orchestra’s bankruptcy proceedings. It’s also the one that, so far, has been the most difficult to resolve. After a string of marathon negotiating days, Wednesday night both sides agreed on … something.

The details of the agreement remain confidential, pending ratification of the entire musicians’ committee and approval by the orchestra board.

Larry McMichael, representing the orchestra management, said the agreement–however tentative–is a big step.

“There are plenty of other issues. There’s our relationship with the Kimmel Center and we have to file our planned disclosure statement. There are plenty of things to do in the bankruptcy case to get it done,” McMichael said. “We’ll get it done, but the biggest issue in this case is our relationship with the musicians. And that’s what we’re working on right now.

McMichael praised U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Stephen Raslavich, who sat in on the bankruptcy negotiations and broke the logjam.

Even if the musicians and the orchestra board both approve the agreement, the managers of the musicians’ union pension fund may still sue the orchestra on their own if they don’t like it.

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