. Interchanging Idioms: Minnesota Orchestra Cancels Concerts Through April 27

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Minnesota Orchestra Cancels Concerts Through April 27

Four programs cancelled and two are re-scheduled


The Minnesota Orchestral Association announced today that it has cancelled further concert performances through Saturday, April 27, 2013, noting that nearly a year into contract negotiations its musicians have yet to put forward a counterproposal and no contract settlement has been reached. All ticketholders of affected concerts are being contacted and offered a variety of options including the opportunity to exchange tickets for a future concert or receive a full refund. A complete list of affected concerts is available below.

“We will soon mark one full year since the start of our negotiations, and we renew our call to the musicians to issue a counterproposal that helps resolve the Orchestra’s financial challenges. It is confounding that over the last 11 months the Union has neither been willing to suggest a proposal of their own nor accept ours,” said Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell. “In order to initiate progress earlier this winter, the Board agreed to participate in an independent financial review suggested by the musicians, and we shared all future financial projections the Union had requested. We stand ready to meet with the Union at any time in order to negotiate a settlement and resume concerts, but we can only do so with a willing partner.”

Contract talks, which are overseen by a federal mediator, began last April 12, 2012, between the Orchestral Association and the Musicians’ Union. In January, the Orchestra Board agreed to conduct a joint financial analysis musicians had sought in order to verify the organization’s financial position. The Board has suggested that the review should focus on testing the accuracy of the organization’s Fiscal 2012 results, as well as the forward-looking financial assumptions upon which the organization’s strategic plan is based. Discussions between the Board and Union are ongoing to agree to terms for the analysis.

The contract proposal currently before musicians includes:

• A total package averaging $119,000 per musician, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician (representing approximately a 30 percent salary reduction from the previous contract);
• Benefits encompassing a guaranteed pension benefit (with no musician contribution required) and a health plan commensurate with that of management and administration;
• A minimum of 10 weeks paid vacation;
• A 21-hour work week;
• A plan to incorporate chamber music and educational outreach opportunities into musician base pay in order to increase the organization’s community outreach.

“We ask the musicians to join us in beginning the back-and-forth bargaining around the details of this proposal that will lead to a settlement. Refusing to accept or address our financial challenges will not make them disappear,” said President and CEO Michael Henson. “As we are forced to cancel further concerts, we offer our deepest apologies to patrons who are eager to attend performances. We sincerely regret the impact of these cancellations and hope our musicians will soon join us at the bargaining table so we do not need to cancel further performances.”

In December, the Orchestral Association made public its annual independent audit, conducted by CliftonLarsonAllen, which revealed an operating deficit of $6 million for Fiscal 2012, the largest in its history.

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