Minnesota Orchestra, musicians to begin contract talks

Posted on: April 12, 2012

In Thursday’s (4/12) Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Graydon Royce writes, “In concert, the band has rarely sounded better. Backstage, the Minnesota Orchestra faces a year of living dangerously. Last December, the organization reported its biggest annual deficit ever. In June, the band evacuates Orchestra Hall for a yearlong face-lift of its iconic home on Nicollet Mall. … On Thursday, high-stakes negotiations begin on the musicians’ contract, which expires in September. Management says it must resolve ‘unsustainable fiscal practices’ by cutting costs. Musicians hear that and wonder how the organization can spend $50 million on the building project and continue touring and recording plans. Musicians’ salaries account for 48 percent of the orchestra’s $32 million budget for fiscal 2012. … [Orchestra President Michael] Henson arrived in Minnesota three months after a landmark labor deal was struck in 2007. It would have raised minimum pay by 26 percent through the five years of the contract, elevating Minnesota’s rank in the national pecking order. The board felt it could pay for the contract by drawing from its endowment fund. The 2008 market collapse shattered that assumption. … In 2009, the union agreed to $4.2 million in concessions, which means top annual minimums are currently $109,304—up 19.2 percent from 2007.”

Posted April 12, 2012