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Philadelphia Orchestra labor talks to continue past deadline

"Play and talk" agreement extends negotiations

Musicians and management of the Philadelphia Orchestra Friday agreed to continue talking for an unspecified period of time beyond the end of the current labor deal, which had been set to expire at 12:01 a.m. Sept 12.

The negotiating committee for players updated the orchestra's rank-and-file membership late Friday on the play-and-talk development, which does not extend the contract formally to a specific date, but keeps musicians working under the current terms. An initial offer of a new five-year contract called for no raises in the first two years, and one percent raises in each of the following three years.

No further negotiating sessions are currently scheduled. "We're not very close at the moment, but are going to allow some time to let both parties figure out how to get close, and we are optimistic we can be closer in a couple of weeks," said cellist John Koen, chairman of the members' committee.

"We have more work to do on an agreement that is both fair and fiscally sound, but there is a genuinely collaborative spirit," said executive vice president for orchestra advancement Ryan Fleur, adding that smaller groups would continue developing ideas for a new contract in working sessions.

The first concert of the orchestra's 2016-17 season is a free performance for college students Sept. 21, with the first subscription concert the following night.