Minn. Orchestra Musicians Reject Latest Proposal

Posted at: 09/28/2013 11:53 AM
Updated at: 09/28/2013 6:33 PM
By: Cassie Hart

Locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra unanimously rejected management's latest contract proposal Saturday, calling it "artistically unsustainable."
The three-year contract offered by management would have cut musicians salaries' from an average of $136,000 a year under the old contract to $104,500. The board was also offering each musician a $20,000 signing bonus.
"Musicians have long said this is not just about money," spokesman Blois Olson said after the vote. "It's about maintaining the world-class talent and reputation of the orchestra."
Olson said the main flaw was a "regressive pay scale" that "would only motivate people who are here to leave" and hurt the orchestra's ability to recruit new members.
In a statement, a representative said the Minnesota Orchestra board of directors was "disappointed" that the musicians rejected the contract, the fourth that management had proposed.
"This was a true compromise, and we are disappointed that the musicians have not yet indicated a similar willingness to compromise or to offer a serious proposal of their own," the statement read.
Musicians were locked out Oct. 1, 2012. Music director Osmo Vanska has threatened to resign is the dispute isn't resolved by Monday so musicians can rehearse for two upcoming Carnegie Hall concerts.
However, Doug Wright, a member of the musicians' negotiating team, said Saturday that "no one is quite sure" that Monday is a firm deadline.
Michael Henson, president of the orchestra, said in a statement Saturday afternoon that the board will "continue to work toward Sept. 30 as the deadline."
Vanska's threat to quit is tied to two concerts that the orchestra was scheduled to perform in New York City in early November. In an April letter to the board, he said he considered these performances crucial for the orchestra. He later told the board that in order for the orchestra to prepare for the Carnegie Hall dates, the players would need to be rehearsing with him by the week of Sept. 30.
Monday is an off day, so the first rehearsal would be Tuesday morning.
Olson said the group decided to vote Saturday morning so that negotiations could continue through the weekend. Sixty members voted. He said talks were occurring and called this "a very fluid situation."

Click here to read a statement released by board.

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