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Delaware Symphony Association and musicians reach three-year collective bargaining agreement

Delaware Symphony Orchestra

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra and its musicians have a new contract.

The three-year collective bargaining agreement between the Delaware Symphony Association and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 21 union runs through August 2025.

DSO executive director J.C. Barker says the deal was a long-time coming. The last CBA was done in 2016 and expired in 2019.

DSO CBA Signing -Photo by Joe del Tufo.jpg
Photo by Joe del Tufo
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DSO CBA Signing

And Barker notes that the pandemic prompted the two sides to use extensions until now.

“Once we were able to put some of that in the rear-view mirror, we were able to tackle a lot of the issues we wanted to tackle with the CBA," said Barker. "And we were really happy with this process. We started in…well we really started in the Spring. But we started in earnest in June with this process. And we reached the agreement way before schedule.” 

The agreement does provide musicians with regular pay raises. It also covers additional contracted services and working conditions.

Barker points out the Delaware Symphony was one of the few orchestras nationwide that paid its musicians for COVID-canceled performances in 2020.

He says getting the deal done allows them to shift their focus elsewhere.

“Now is the time for us to start to look ahead and see how we can better serve our communities in Delaware and see what we can do for the people that really have not had access to the Symphony they’ve had in the past,” he said.

Barker says that includes beginning its classics concert series again in Sussex County. That starts with a 2 p.m. show this Sunday, September 25, 2022 at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes.

That concert, Classics I Made in America, is the same one they perform this Friday night at The Grand Opera House.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.