Minnesota Orchestra Offers Musicians Negotiation Dates; Cancels thru 6/2; Adds July Concerts


The Minnesota Orchestra Board Negotiating Committee has offered three proposed dates to the Musicians' Union for negotiating sessions at the end of this month. The Orchestra also announced the cancellation of two final weeks in its classical subscription season through June 2, as well as the addition of three weeks of classical concerts in July at Ted Mann Concert Hall.

"Although the musicians have repeated their refusal to bargain with us, we hope that the SPCO's ratification of a new contract can demonstrate a way forward," said Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell. "Members of that excellent orchestra, also based in this community, acknowledged the need to reset costs in order to ensure their organization's financial stability. In that situation, board and musicians came together and bargained throughout a long lockout in order to reach a resolution that the community can afford. We again ask our musicians to return to negotiate in good faith so that we can do the same."

On April 26, the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians' Negotiating Committee addressed the Board in a special meeting and stated that they refused to negotiate until the lockout was lifted. Lifting the lockout under the existing contract would result in the orchestra incurring losses of $500,000 per month. Three days later, the locked out Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra ratified an agreement that calls for 19 percent salary decreases and a 20 percent reduction in the size of the orchestra, ending their seven-month lockout. "Over the five years of their previous contract, SPCO musician salary increases were substantially less than the 19.2 percent increase Minnesota Orchestra musicians enjoyed-making the SPCO's now-ratified concessions comparable to the reductions we've asked of our musicians," said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson.

The Board's proposed negotiating dates fall toward the end of the month on May 20, 21, and 22, in order to allow for the completion of the independent financial review and fundraising feasibility studies that are currently underway. All negotiating sessions would be held with the assistance of a federal mediator. "We look forward to discussing the results of these reports with the musicians," said Board Negotiating Committee Chair Richard Davis. "The musicians have questioned the state of our finances and the additional fundraising capacity that might exist in this community to support their salaries, and these reports will address those pertinent issues. We hope this will be the gateway to further communication that will allow our summer concerts to proceed."

Contract talks between the Orchestral Association and its musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians' Union (Local 30-73) began a year ago on April 12, 2012. The Orchestral Association's proposal offers a total package averaging $119,000 per musician, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician. The proposal also includes 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave. Musicians have not yet put forward a contract counterproposal. In December, the Orchestral Association made public its annual independent audit, conducted by CliftonLarsonAllen, which revealed an operating deficit of $6 million for Fiscal 2012.

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The Orchestra announced cancellation of the two final weeks in its classical subscription season, running from May 16 through June 2, as well as the addition of three weeks of classical programs in July at Ted Mann Concert Hall.

"It is with great regret that the musicians' refusal to negotiate has forced the Orchestra to cancel the final two programs of our subscription season, but with no negotiations currently underway, it is clear that we will not be able to offer these programs," said President and CEO Michael Henson. "We are not willing to give up on our entire season, however, and we've created a summer line-up that draws highlights from the 12-13 classical season. We ask our musicians to return to the bargaining table, so that we have the option to present these summer concerts for our audiences."