Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Agree To Contract Modifications

August 4, 2009 – The musicians and management of the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) announced today that they have reached an agreement to modify certain terms of the musicians’ contract to help alleviate the financial pressures of the current economy. In total, the contract alterations will result in about $4.2 million dollars of cost savings—from salary and pension reductions and frozen positions—over the remaining three years of the five-year contract, which expires September 30, 2012.

The contract modifications involve salary reductions totaling $1.8 million—including a wage freeze in fiscal 2010—which equates to a 6 percent reduction in wage increases over the course of the agreement; a delay in filling open positions within the Orchestra, which allows for savings of approximately $1.8 million over the next three years; and a reduction in the MOA’s pension funding obligation that will save $600,000 over the course of the agreement.

President and CEO Michael Henson said, “We’ve taken many preemptive steps over the last nine months to reduce our expenses in the economic downturn, and we are very appreciative that our musicians are part of these efforts. It is critical our company band together in this extraordinary economy to ensure our long-term financial viability. We thank our musicians for their helpful contributions.”

Principal Harp Kathy Kienzle, a member of the musicians’ negotiating team, said, “Although we had a binding contract through 2012, the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra recognize that these are unusually challenging times, and we wanted to offer our help to minimize the negative impact of the recession and support our organization through this uncertain period.”

Continued R. Douglas Wright, principal trombone and musicians’ negotiating team member, “The musicians are committed to offering, even in the toughest of times, the world class excellence in great music to which our community is accustomed, and we are grateful to our Board and wider community for their support and dedication as we all work to ensure the continued long-term strength and viability of the Orchestra.”

Earlier in the year, the MOA announced administrative staff and budget cuts that resulted in $2.3 million in savings for the Association’s 2009-10 budget. Those reductions included eliminating four full-time staff positions and reducing part-time staffing, instituting salary reductions or wage freezes for all staff, and reducing employer contributions to staff retirement plans. Music Director Osmo Vänskä and President and CEO Michael Henson reduced their salaries by, respectively, 10 percent and 7 percent.

The Minnesota Orchestra’s 2008-09 concert season ended on Saturday night with a Sommerfest concert performance of Verdi’s Aida. The MOA fiscal year ends on August 31.

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