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Strike Up The Band! Minnesota Orchestra Lockout Ends

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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After 15 months, management and the musicians have agreed on a contract that will settle their dispute. The performers agreed to pay cuts and to pay more of their health care expenses. Management did not get concessions that were as large as they first sought.

After more than 15 months, the bitter labor battle between the Minnesota Orchestra musicians and management has ended. Whether the orchestra's music director Osmo Vänskä (pictured here) will return, after resigning in October, remains to be seen.

After more than 15 months, the bitter labor battle between the Minnesota Orchestra musicians and management has ended. Whether the orchestra's music director Osmo Vänskä (pictured here) will return, after resigning in October, remains to be seen. Greg Helgeson

"The 15-month lockout at the Minnesota Orchestra ended Tuesday after management and musicians announced an agreement," Minnesota Public Radio writes.

"Musicians will return to work on Feb. 1," the network adds. They had been locked out since October 2012.

Our friends on the Deceptive Cadence blog have been following the news about the labor dispute at the Minnesota Orchestra. As they've written:

"The orchestra became the unwitting poster child for labor strife in the classical music world — and, to some extent, an emblem of the problems facing nonprofit arts institutions across the country. ...

"The music has to be world-class, but so does the fundraising, the ticket sales and everything else behind the scenes. That was happening in Minnesota — but then came the economic downturn in 2008, a year after the musicians received a hefty pay raise. They gave some of it back, but management says it has to cut salaries even more. Musicians say top players will leave, and some already have, threatening the very artistic quality they need to attract audiences and funders."

Now, Minnesota Public Radio says, the musicians have "voted to approve a new contract that will end the nation's longest-running contract dispute for a concert orchestra. Both sides say they're pleased with the agreement."

According to MPR:

"Under the terms of a three-year contract, the musicians will have to take a 15 percent pay cut in the first year. The musicians will receive raises in the second and third years resulting in a total pay cut of 10 percent over the term of the contract.

"However, they will also be paying increased health care expenses that orchestra managers said will make the musicians' total concession 15 percent. ...

"Management locked out the musicians in October 2012 after the musicians rejected a contract proposal calling for 35 percent salary cuts and a myriad of changes in work rules.

"The orchestra reported a $6 million shortfall in 2012."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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