Minnesota Orchestra Offers Revised Contract Proposal to Musicians' Union
The Minnesota Orchestra Board Negotiating Committee has issued a revised contract proposal in the ongoing labor dispute with the Musicians' Union that would lift the musician lockout and significantly modify both the proposed wage reduction and the number of work rule changes sought. The Board, which met yesterday and approved the revised offer, has requested that the Musicians' Bargaining Committee present the offer to the full Orchestra for an anonymous vote by September 9.
"Our goal with this proposal is to find an immediate way to launch mediation that will be acceptable to the musicians and will also guarantee our concertgoers a full concert season," says Board Negotiating Committee Chair Richard Davis. "The Musicians' Union has made its position clear that they will not negotiate until the lockout is lifted and the musicians are returned to work at their previous levels of compensation, and this offer respects that requirement. The Board is flexible in how we might structure a solution, but it is important to us to be able to guarantee our concertgoers a complete season of concerts even as negotiations proceed."
He continued, "Our window of opportunity is closing, and we hope the union will take this proposal to the musician membership for an official vote as soon as possible. The proposal offers a chance to save our entire 2013-14 season for home audiences and to maintain the Carnegie Hall performances which Osmo Vänskä has noted are personally very important to him."
Yesterday Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä said that in order to allow appropriate preparation time for the Orchestra's Carnegie Hall performances on November 2 and 3, the Orchestra musicians will need to be in rehearsals the week of September 30. To facilitate that timeline, management noted that a contract agreement with musicians will need to be reached by September 15, in order to give musicians appropriate notice to return to work by the end of the month.
The central tenets of the revised two-year contract proposal are:
Musicians return to work on September 30 at previous contract rates for a two-month period of "play and talk" negotiations involving the mediator.
If no agreement is reached within the two-month period, musician salaries will be guaranteed at an annual average of $102,200 per musician for the 24 months of the contract. With benefits, the average total compensation will be $135,000.
The proposal includes a revenue split if the Orchestra meets its budget. Under this concept, 33% of excess net earned revenue would be paid out to musicians on a pro-rata basis.
The number of work rule changes requested is significantly reduced.
Proposal will not eliminate Orchestra's deficit
Under the terms of this revised two-year proposal, the Minnesota Orchestra would accrue a deficit of $2.2 million over the course of the contract. "Our aim was to eliminate our deficit entirely," said Board Chair Jon Campbell, "but the Board has put forward this compromise in the hopes of getting musicians back on the stage and audiences back in Orchestra Hall in time to launch a new season."
He continued, "We previously declined the mediator's 'play and talk' proposal because it would have cost the organization $2.8 million for four months with no assurance that the musicians would offer a concessionary proposal that would safeguard the Orchestra's future. At this point, a short term agreement does not allow us to mount a full concert season, and we simply cannot burden our ticket holders again with the rounds of cancellations they endured this past year.