MN Orchestra musicians reject new contract; deadline approaches to keep conductor, Carnegie concerts

A photo on the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra website showing members who've left in recent years.
A photo on the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra website showing members who've left in recent years.

The latest news in the ongoing feud between the management and the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra: more noise, no music.

SEE ALSO: MN Orchestra offers musicians 25 percent pay cut instead of 40 to get back to work

The musicians announced today that they've rejected the latest contract proposal from management and urged the reconsideration of a mediator's independent proposal.

The board says a contract must be signed by Sept. 15 if the orchestra is to keep its renowned music director, Osmo Vanska, and practice for upcoming concerts at Carnegie Hall in November.

"Osmo may have to leave," Richard Davis, chairman of the orchestra's negotiating team, told the Star Tribune editorial board on Tuesday. "The board is resolved to know that that is a risk. Carnegie, the opening of the hall. All three may have to fall."

The article goes on to say:

Davis, board chairman Jon Campbell and CEO Michael Hensongave the bleak assessment on the same day that they released an analysis by AKA | Strategy of New York that said the orchestra may face budget shortfalls even worse than those already cited by management.

The number they'd already cited was $2.2 million.

"It's not a time for threats," Blois Olson, spokesman for the musicians, said on Thursday. "It's a time for solutions. And a well-measured, thought-out solution has been put on the table, and the management rejected it."

In July, George Mitchell, the former U.S. senator from Maine, agreed to step in and help settle what has been called the longest labor dispute in our orchestral history. The musicians say they'd be back to work by now if the orchestra board had accepted Mitchell's own proposal, the details of which were not available.

Under the new proposal offered by the board, the musicians would earn the same pay they did before the lockout, for a period of two months. If no agreement could be reached within that time, every musician would receive a 25 percent cut. The average salary would fall from $135,000 to $102,200 for the next two years.

Previously, the orchestra board had offered to cut salaries between 22 and 40 percent, on an individual basis. The average salary would have come out to $89,000, but it was rejected and the musicians were locked out of Orchestral Hall on October 1, 2012.

The new proposal mirrors the old proposal in at least one aspect: Both include 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave.

-- Email Jesse Marx at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @marxjesse

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