The Minnesota Orchestra has released the following press release, indicating that agreement has been reached between players and management after a 15-month dispute over pay and conditions. The orchestra plans to give its first concert at its Orchestra Hall home since the dispute began in February. Music director Osmo Vänskä resigned in October 2013 but has reportedly said on Facebook that he may return to the orchestra, according to Finnish newspaper Helsingen Sanomat.
The Minnesota Orchestra Board of Directors and musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union (Local 30-73), today ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, effective February 1, that brings the organization’s lockout to a conclusion. The Orchestra’s first concert performances back on stage at Orchestra Hall are anticipated in early February and will be announced shortly.
“This ratified agreement reflects that both the musicians and the board made concessions on issues of importance to them, which was necessary in order to bring the organization together again,” said Board Negotiating Chair Richard Davis. “Our success now depends on our ability to move forward with positive spirit as one organization, and we are very pleased to begin this work with the musicians and to engage our audiences with music again.”
Clarinetist and musician negotiator Tim Zavadil said, “Musicians are pleased that we have come to a solution with our board, and we are ready to work with them to begin the hard work that lies ahead. We are anxious to start performing for our community at home in Orchestra Hall once again. We know that there is a great love for this Orchestra throughout the community, and we are confident that this community will, in fact, continue to support world-class music in the Twin Cities.”
The terms of the three-year contract agreement include:
• A 15-percent reduction to base and overscale salaries from 2012 levels in the contract’s first year. Minimum base salaries over the life of the contract of $96,824 (year one), rising to $99,008 (year two) and $102,284 (year three).
• A number of musician positions remaining vacant through the life of the contract, with an agreement to add seven members over three years, which will increase the size of the Orchestra from its current 77 members to 84. The agreed optimal size of the ensemble remains 95 members.
• Musicians agreeing to pay a significantly greater portion of health insurance costs.
• Revenue sharing, based on the performance of the Orchestra’s endowments. If the endowments average a 10-percent return over the three years of the contract, musicians are eligible to receive investment returns exceeding 10 percent up to a cap of 5 percent of their base salary for each year of the agreement.
• Management significantly reduced the number of work rule changes it originally requested and musicians agreed to a series of innovative rule changes, designed to give the organization more flexibility in scheduling concerts and providing community outreach. The agreed-upon changes include:
• the ability to offer chamber music and outreach performances without additional pay
• an increase in the number of weekend rehearsals and concerts allowed
• the ability to offer New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day concerts
• an increase in concert length up to 2 ¼ hours when needed
• changes in the way overtime is calculated
• Mutual agreement on the organization’s classical music focus, with a guaranteed minimum of 20 weeks of classical performances each year.
• Quarterly meetings between the Board chair and leadership with musicians to build trust and foster open communication.
The agreement continues to rank the Minnesota Orchestra among the “Top Ten” orchestras in the nation according to pay scale, which was a key musician priority.
“Keeping our salaries in the top ten was a critical issue for us, as it allows us to attract and retain the finest musicians in the country, and continue building the tradition of excellence that has been cultivated by the community over the past 110 years,” said cellist and musician negotiator Marcia Peck.
Said Board Chair Jon Campbell, “Meeting the ‘Top Ten’ metric means the organization will need to seek bridge funding to help address financial issues in future years. Now more than ever, we will need members of our community who voiced strong support for world-class orchestral music in our state to help us achieve long-term fiscal health through increased concert attendance and financial support.”
At the Orchestra’s December Annual Meeting, the Board requested that Campbell continue to lead as Chair through the conclusion of the labor dispute. With a contract resolution reached, the Board will elect a new chair in upcoming weeks.
“With this agreement in place, we look forward to working with new board leadership to rebuild our relationship and trust within our organization and with our audiences,” said Principal Trombone and musician negotiator Doug Wright.
“Our plan is to resume concerts as soon as possible, with “homecoming” programs in early February and then the launch of our 2014 subscription season,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson. “We are happy to begin a new chapter by welcoming our audiences and the greater community to Orchestra Hall and the musicians back to this stage.”
Details of the homecoming concerts and the 2014 subscription season will be announced soon, and Minnesota Orchestra subscribers and donors will receive advance ordering information.