Congressman Keith Ellison has put his weight on the scales in the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute. The Minneapolis representative has sent a letter to management and board asking them to accept a proposal to end the lockout and negotiate for four months.

Musicians have accepted the notion, which was put forward by former Senator George Mitchell. Management has rejected the plan.

Ellison's letter said in part: "I am writing to respectfully urge you to end the 11-month lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra musicians and accept the interim agreement proposed by [Mitchell]."

Ellison said both management and musicians have legitimate concerns about the future of the orchestra, "which is why a neutral mediator with the skill of Senator Mitchell is so critical to this process."

Music director Osmo Vanska has said he will resign if he cannot get the orchestra back on stage by Sept. 30, in order to prepare for concerts at Carnegie Hall in November. He considers those concerts a key part of his tenure with the orchestra. Management has said for that to happen, it would need an agreement by Sunday. Musicians favor the Mitchell plan, which would end the lockout for four months while both sides negotiate.

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