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Minnesota Orchestra ends labor lockout with three-year contract

Minnesota Orchestra ends labor lockout with three-year contract
Conductor Osmo Vanska, who had led the Minnesota Orchestra, left the post during labor dispute. (Greg Helgeson)

The Minnesota Orchestra has put its musicians' lockout behind it with the ratification late Tuesday of a new three-year contract with its players.

Orchestra leaders announced the new contract will go into effect Feb. 1 and will allow the orchestra to resume performances as early as next month. The terms of the contract provide for a 15% reduction in base salaries from 2012 levels.

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The labor dispute -- the longest in U.S. orchestral history -- originated from a failure to reach a new contract, resulting in management locking out the musicians in October 2012. Since then, the orchestra has had to cancel numerous performances. Its music director, Osmo Vänskä, stepped down from his post late last year because of the dispute.

"This ratified agreement reflects that both the musicians and the board made concessions on issues of importance to them, which was necessary in order to bring the organization together again," said Board Negotiating Chair Richard Davis, in a statement.

The salary reductions are not as severe as management had initially proposed. The new contract provides for a 15% reduction in salary levels, with the new minimum base salary of $96,824. Initially, orchestra management had proposed slashing salaries by a third.

The new contract also provides for revenue sharing that will allow musicians to earn additional money if the orchestra's endowments average a 10% return over the three years of the contract.

Leaders didn't say Tuesday whether Vänskä would return to his post as music director.

Considered one of the top classical groups in the world, the Minnesota Orchestra is up for a Grammy Award this year for its recording of Sibelius' Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4.

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