The Minneapolis City Council on Friday called on management and musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra to return to the bargaining table. Musicians have been locked out since they voted Oct. 1 to reject a contract offer that would cut minimum salaries by 32 percent.
The council's resolution also urged both sides to resume talks and stated that the city discourages the use of lockouts to settle labor disputes.
Meanwhile, the locked-out musicians said they want to address the full orchestra board at its regular monthly meeting on Monday.
Board chairman Jon Campbell said in an interview Friday afternoon that he welcomed the City Council resolution. He and CEO Michael Henson had not yet received the musicians' request to attend the board meeting.
"We'll take that under consideration, but we need to huddle with some of our people," Campbell said.
The union's previous request to speak to the full board was denied.
Concerts have been canceled through November and the board will need to decide soon whether to cancel December dates set for the Minneapolis Convention Center.
"Yesterday we urged management not to cancel more concerts, today the City Council urged all sides to sit down and work this out," said Tim Zavadil, chair of the musicians' negotiating committee. "Since the board is meeting Monday, it would be a good time to take the message seriously."
There has been no movement on either side. Management has said it will not talk unless the union brings a financial proposal to the table. The union has said it has made three proposals: to employ binding arbitration; to continue to play during talks, and to do a financial analysis.
"We would be $500,000 more in the hole every month if we continued to play and talk under the terms of the old agreement," Henson said. "The fact remains that after seven months of negotiating, we have yet to receive a counterproposal."
Campbell said he was happy to see the City Council's position.
"We agree we need to get back and talk, but for us to negotiate against ourselves is not what we are going to do," he said.
Henson and Campbell said the orchestra is currently raising $110 million for three purposes: a $50 million hall renovation, $30 million in artistic initiatives and $30 million for endowment. Only $10 million has been raised for the endowment, Henson said Friday.
The board has argued throughout the negotiations that it has paid union contracts the past few years with "unsustainable draws" from its investments. Negotiators proposed a deal in April that would cut the average salary to $89,000, from $135,000.
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra also locked out musicians, and on Thursday canceled all remaining 2012 concerts. The union issued a statement Friday expressing outrage at what it called "management's unwillingness to negotiate any of the terms of the agreement."
Graydon Royce 612-673-7299