Orchestra dispute sparks partisan passion

  • Updated: December 1, 2012 - 6:38 PM

Readers weigh in on both sides of the Minnesota Orchestra lockout. Here's a sampling of comments as the orchestra -- which has canceled all concerts through the end of the year -- prepares to hold its annual meeting Thursday.

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A packed audience gave a standing ovation, and held up a sign in support, to the musicians of the Minnesota orchestra at a concert held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Oct. 18, 2012.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Stories about the Minnesota Orchestra labor dispute generated many comments from Star Tribune online readers in the past week. Musicians, who have been locked out since their contract expired Sept. 30, voted "no confidence" in the orchestra's CEO, Michael Henson, last week, while the orchestra's board stated that Henson has its full support.

Here's a sampling of comments as the orchestra -- which has canceled all concerts through the end of the year -- prepares to hold its annual meeting Thursday.

The orchestra is building a shiny new building that will be empty in 2014. Time for the orchestra members to pass the tin cup and re-form independently, and play where they can fit ... O'Shaughnessy, Convention Center, wherever. It's schism time! -- SWSCHRAD

So let me get this straight, the employees vote no confidence in their boss and he gets fired? That's so cool! I'm going to try that tomorrow. Wish me luck and I'll see you guys on the street tomorrow when I get fired. -- JABUYER

Always interesting how unions react when the money runs dry; who cares about a tuba player who refuses to accept $50,000 per year? Then go get a real job. There is no conspiracy by the board to trick union members into accepting less than they are worth ... money has dried up. Life is tough, go back to work as you will never make up what you have already lost. -- DFLLEFT

I think we are approaching the time when the situation will be irreversible. The Minnesota Orchestra can hire prevailing-wage musicians and spend 20 years to achieve what they threw away. Meanwhile, who will buy tickets or donate to see third-rate musicians learning to become first-rate? The board needs to throw someone under the bus to even hope for reconciliation. Meanwhile, the locked-out musicians should see if "Minneapolis Symphony" is still trademarked. Now that would be a fitting end to this story! -- LA55122

After all that has transpired, why hasn't the union presented a counterproposal? Each orchestra member could be replaced by one of the many musicians across the country and no one would know the difference. -- DUFFERH

"Each orchestra member could be replaced by one of the many musicians across the country and no one would know the difference." Wrong. The orchestra management would likely lose more money hiring second-rate musicians because no one who values the arts and music will pay what the orchestra wants to charge to watch people who aren't even 75 percent as good as the ones they are locking out. That's simple business. If you want talent then pay for it. -- AIRFORCEGUY

I certainly have some concerns about this current orchestra management, but did I just miss some serious negotiating by the musicians' union somewhere along the way? The German unions have long had a saying: "You can't milk a dead cow." Unions are most successful with confrontation when the economics of the underlying business/industry are strong. That isn't the case here, and I think the best course is to take a problem-solving approach with what admittedly seems a board and management that is far from fabulous. Has anyone seen big donors weigh in on this? -- REGIONGUY

The board has a legal obligation to support the mission of the Minnesota Orchestra, which includes providing for its long-term viability and sustainability. Chemistry is critical. But chemistry won't matter much if labor cost issues are left unaddressed and the organization's endowment runs dry in the next few years. -- SIDSFRIEND

The Minnesota Orchestra musicians are among the most talented in the United States, and as an ensemble they are world-class. The people talking about how easy it would be to replace them should think about what happens when a top sports team "cleans house" and replaces the top players. Throwing a bunch of new players together doesn't make a championship team. Building the right chemistry takes years, and many teams never quite get there. The Minnesota Orchestra is there now, but the board is throwing that away. They have a sacred trust to support the musicians, and they are violating that trust. -- KPKOOIKER

 

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