Minnesota Orchestra lockout ends; concerts to start in February - KMSP-TV

Minnesota Orchestra lockout ends; concerts to start in February

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The Minnesota Orchestra Board of Director and the Twin Cities Musicians' Union ratified a new contract on Tuesday that will end the 15-month lockout that kept the concert hall quiet last year.

"This ratified agreement reflects that both the musicians and the board made concessions on issues of importance to them, which was necessary in order to bring the organization together again," said Board Negotiating Chair Richard Davis in a press release. "Our success now depends on our ability to move forward with positive spirit as one organization, and we are very pleased to begin this work with the musicians and to engage our audiences with music again."

The new collective bargaining agreement will be effective Feb. 1, and the first concert performances are expected in early February. Specific dates have not been announced yet.


The current bargaining agreement will last for three years, and it includes:

- A 15 percent reduction to base and overscale salaries from 2012 levels for the first year and increases in the second and third years. This puts the average base salary at $118,000, down from $135,000.

- Some musician positions will remain vacant throughout the span of the contract

- 7 members will be added

- Musicians will pay a significantly greater portion of health care costs

- Revenue will be shared with musicians based on endowment

- Management reduced work rule changes

The move will increasing the orchestra size from 77 to 84 artists but will not reaching the optimal 95.

The revenue sharing is contingent upon whether or not the endowments received by the Minnesota Orchestra average a 10-percent return over the life of the contract. If so, musicians will be eligible to receive investment returns above 10 percent up to a cap of 5 percent their base salary for each year under the agreement.

Additionally, some new rules will give more flexibility in scheduling and outreach. For example, chamber music and outreach performances would be possible, but without additional pay. An increase in weekend rehearsals and concerts is also allowed, as well as possible concerts on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Concerts can now also span 2.5 hours when appropriate.

Both sides agree that a guaranteed minimum of 20 weeks of classical music performances will be conducted each year.


Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson said concerts will resume "as soon as possible" with so-called "homecoming" programming in early February before launching the 2014 subscription season.

"We are happy to begin a new chapter by welcoming our audience and the greater community to the Orchestra Hall and the musicians back to this stage," he said.

Details have yet to be announced, and subscribers and donors will receive advance ordering information.


After a contentious lockout that saw some sour sparring play out in the public and the press, quarterly meetings are now planned between the board chair and orchestra leadership with the musicians in an effort to build trust and foster an environment of open communication.

"Musicians are pleased that we have come to a solution with our board, and we are ready to work with them to begin the hard work that lies ahead. We are anxious to start performing for our community at home in Orchestra Hall once again," Tim Zavadil, clarinetist and musician negotiator, said. "We know that there is a great love for this Orchestra throughout the community, and we are confident that this community will, in fact, continue to support world-class music in the Twin Cities."

Under the agreement, the Minnesota Orchestra will remain in the top 10 orchestras nationwide according to pay scale, which was a significant priority for musicians.

"Keeping our salaries in the top 10 was a critical issue for us as it allows us to attract and retain the finest musicians in the country and continue building the tradition of excellence that has been cultivated by the community over the past 110 years," said cellist and musician negotiator Marcia Peck.

Yet, Board Chair Jon Campbell says remaining in the top 10 bracket will continue to put the organization up against "significant deficits" over the course of the contract, which he contends will need to be addressed in future years.

"Due to this agreement, we are closer to fiscal sustainability than before," he said in a release. "Now more than ever, we need members of our community who voiced strong support for world-class orchestral music in our state to help us achieve long-term fiscal responsibility through increased concert attendance and financial support."

Now that the resolution has been reached, Campbell plans to step aside as chair when the board elects a new leader in the coming weeks. That transition appeared to be one the musicians also welcomed.

"With this agreement in place, we look forward to working with new board leadership to rebuild our relationship and trust within our organization and with our audiences," said Doug Wright, principal trombone and musician negotiator Doug Wright.

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