Minnesota Orchestra's final offer

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 25, 2012 - 9:47 PM

Latest offer retains cut in musician salaries, while SPCO players make new proposal. Both contracts end Oct. 1.

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Members of the Minnesota Orchestra

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The Minnesota Orchestral Association on Tuesday made what it calls a "final contract proposal" to its union musicians. And in St. Paul, the musicians made a new proposal to the board of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Both moves came as current contracts expire at midnight, Oct. 1.

The Minnesota Orchestra offer clarifies and adjusts proposed changes in work rules, but maintains the original deal's financial package: a cut in average annual salary from $135,000 to $89,000; guaranteed pension contribution of 7.63 percent of base salary, 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave.

A spokesman said the musicians are studying the offer.

Musicians at the SPCO made a three-year offer that would cut minimum salaries from the current $78,223 to $70,000 for each of the first two years, and $75,000 in the third year. Union leader Carole Mason Smith said the proposal would save the orchestra more than $700,000. The board's most recent offer would reduce salaries to $62,500, with new members starting at $50,000.

The union also proposed raising ticket prices by 20 percent and hiking monthly membership fees to $7.50, from $5.

The proposal includes a "shared sacrifice" clause that would require senior executives to take a pay cut equal in percentage terms to what the musicians are taking.

In a statement, Richard Davis, chair of the Minnesota Orchestra board's negotiating committee, expressed frustration with the union musicians.

"Nearly six months have passed and we have yet to receive from our players a counterproposal or even any indication of their priorities," he said.

President and CEO Michael Henson would not speculate on what action the Orchestra might take if the musicians reject the offer, and the contract expires.

"If they want more conversation this week, we are here to find a resolution," he said. "We'll see how the week plays out."

The Minnesota season is scheduled to begin Oct. 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center auditorium. The SPCO will have its fourth set of concerts this weekend.

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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