MN Orchestra locks out musicians after they reject 34 percent pay cut

The first month of the Minnesota Orchestra's 2012 season has been cancelled.
The first month of the Minnesota Orchestra's 2012 season has been cancelled.

Today is the day classical music died in Minneapolis, at least through the end of November -- the Minnesota Orchestra has cancelled all concerts at least until December after management and musicians couldn't settle a dispute over their next collective bargaining agreement.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota Orchestra shares Orchestra Hall renovation plans

Management, citing the orchestra's $2.9 million deficit in 2011, wanted musicians to accept a 34-percent pay cut that would've reduced their annual salaries from $135,000 to $89,000. But musicians want management to be more transparent about the orchestra's complete financial picture before agreeing to a pay cut.

In some respects, even under the terms of the more austere deal most recently proposed by management, a musician gig with the Minnesota Orchestra isn't the worst thing ever -- according to KARE, the final offer included "an annual contribution by the Orchestral Association of 7.63 percent of base salary, 10 weeks paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave."

But the worry is that in making the compensation packages the Minnesota Orchestra offers its musicians less lucrative than what other orchestras can offer, the ensemble might slip from world-class status.

During the lockout, musicians won't be paid. Musicians had hoped to reach a "play and talk" agreement with management by which they'd continue to perform under the terms of the last CBA while negotiations continued, but that possibility was rejected by the orchestra board.

"We have great respect for our musicians' talents, and today is a difficult day," said MOA Board Chair Jon Campbell in a written release. "Our organization, however, cannot keep performing on borrowed time."

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