Minnesota Orchestra Withdraws from Nov Carnegie Hall Concerts After Fourth Contract Rejection
Over the weekend, musicians rejected the Minnesota Orchestral Association's fourth proposal in the organization's long labor dispute, which included an annual salary of $104,500 over the life of a three-year contract, a revenue sharing opportunity and a $20,000 signing bonus for each musician, made possible through one-time special funding from Minnesota foundations and community support entities.
Subsequently, and after more than seventeen months of requests, the Association received its first counter-proposals from Union musicians today. The eleventh-hour proposals from the Union included one with an average annual salary reduction per musician of 4.7% over a three year period with a revision back to 2012 contract levels and another with a 6.7% reduction for one year. This contrasts with the Board's most recent proposal of an average 17.7 % reduction over three years including a one-time signing bonus of $20,000 to address three years of significant deficits and a projected depletion of the Orchestra's endowment by 2018.
"It is clear that this was less a good-faith negotiating effort and more an attempt to blunt criticism over the musicians' inability to come forth with a substantial solution to our financial challenges," said Board Chair Jon Campbell.
Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä outlined to Carnegie Hall management that musicians needed to be in rehearsals the week of September 30 in order to allow appropriate preparation time for the Orchestra's performances at the New York venue on November 2 and 3. In a letter last spring, Vänskä said that he would resign from the Orchestra if the ensemble did not perform these concerts.
"We have done our very best to try to reach a compromise agreement by September 30," said Board Negotiating Chair Richard Davis. "We have worked with the mediator, consulted with the Governor, collaborated with community leaders, issued two new proposals in the last two weeks and held a last minute meeting with musician negotiators. In our last proposal, a coalition of funding partners from our community rose to the occasion to offer an improved package so that we might reach an agreement in time to allow these Carnegie Hall concerts to proceed. We regret that the musicians have rejected our efforts. For this reason, we are left with no choice but to withdraw from the Carnegie Hall performances in November."
He continued, "We understand that our Music Director considers these New York performances vital to his Minnesota tenure and we share his disappointment at having to withdraw from the concerts, but we could no longer commit to the dates given the decision by the musicians to reject our proposals. We very much hope Osmo Vänskä will choose to remain with the Minnesota Orchestra and fulfill his contract." Vänskä's contract with the Orchestra runs through September 2015.
Davis continued, "We appreciate the patience Carnegie Hall management has shown our Orchestra, but because these concerts are only a month away, we cannot ask them to delay this commitment any longer. We also appreciate the generous efforts of our community during the last several weeks to provide the funding necessary to underwrite part of our most recent proposal. We are disappointed that our community proposal was not accepted by the musicians in time to save these performances."