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Orchestra management offers revised deal, end to lockout

  • Blog Post by: Graydon Royce
  • August 29, 2013 - 3:36 PM

Minnesota Orchestra management today released details of a proposal to end its lockout of musicians. It is a deal that had been offered previously through the office of Sen. George Mitchell and the release was intended to put the details in front of the public.

Mitchell has been working with board and musicians to achieve ground rules for a mediated negotiation. The board's proposal was an attempt to lift the lockout for two months, allow musicians to work at full pay while they negotiated and if no deal were reached, impose a 22-month contract. Musicians rejected that proposal. Mitchell then offered an idea that the board rejected. It would have allowed for four months of negotations, with a six percent pay cut in the final two months if there is no deal.

The board has been frustrated that in both cases, terms that were offered through Mitchell were leaked to media. CEO Michael Henson said Thursday that "We did not leak them," implying that musicians had done so. Therefore, Henson said, the board was technically stepping outside the Mitchell process and making its proposal public.

Henson said that if musicians agree to the deal, Mitchell would still be engaged to mediate negotations.

Among the terms: musicians would return at their former salaries on Sept. 30 and would "play and talk" for two months.

If no agreement were reached, a 24-month contract would go into effect that would pay the musicians an annual average salary of $102,200. That would represent a 24 percent cut from the average annual salary of $135,000 in the musicians' previous contract, which expired Sept. 30, 2012. 

In a contract offer made last September, the board had proposed an average salary of $89,000.

With benefits, the average total compensation will be $135,000, according to a release issued Thursday afternoon.

The new offer also changes overscale pay, reducing it by a 25 percent across the board, versus a range of 22 percent to 40 percent in the previous proposal. Benefit and vacation packages remain the same in the two proposals.

Under the terms of this revised two-year proposal, the Minnesota Orchestra would accrue a deficit of $2.2 million over the course of the contract. “Our aim was to eliminate our deficit entirely,” said Board Chair Jon Campbell, “but the board has put forward this compromise in the hopes of getting musicians back on the stage and audiences back in Orchestra Hall in time to launch a new season.”

The orchestra requested that the Musicians Bargaining Committee present the new terms to the musicians for a vote by Sept. 9.

Musicians issued a statement Thursday afternoon that criticized the board for "abandoning the mediator they recommended." The statement called for political leaders -- including Gov. Mark Dayton and Minneapois Mayor R.T. Rybak -- to step into the fray.

More details of the new proposal are at the orchestra's website.

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