Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra drew a huge crowd to Lake Harriet on Sunday for a free concert. Bassist Bill Schrickel led the orchestra through Beethoven's Fifth and some other favorites and violist Sam Bergman made the case for the musicians in their contract talks with the orchestra's management.
Noting that the state of Minnesota has committed $14 million to the Orchestra Hall renovation, Bergman said he and other musicians find it upsetting that the board feels the need to now slash its salary budget. He compared it to the Minnesota Twins getting Target Field three years ago. If the Twins had turned around and said "we're putting the St. Paul Saints on the field," people would have been outraged, Bergman said.
Video producer Matt Peiken put together a clip for his online magazine, Mnuet.
The two sides meet on Monday again. Management's current proposal would cut the musicians' average salary from $135,000 to $89,000. There are also significant changes sought in work rules for the musicians. The union has asked the board to jointly engage an independent analysis of the orchestra's finances. Management contends it has answered all pertinent financial questions.
Musicians gathered 1,000 signatures at the Lake Harriet concert in support of their position. They also have posted a petition at their web site.