Minnesota Orchestra Board, Musicians Reach Agreement to End Lockout

The Minnesota Orchestra has announced that its board and musicians have ratified a new three-year contract, effective February 1, ending a fifteen-month lockout.

The terms of the agreement include a 15 percent reduction in salaries and benefits from 2012 levels in year one, followed by small increases in years two and three, reducing the total reduction in salaries and benefits to 10 percent. Under the contract, the average salary of an orchestra member will fall to $118,000 in the first year, from $135,000 under the expired contract, while minimum base salaries will be set at $96,824 in year one, rising to $99,008 in year two and $102,284 in year three, maintaining the MO's ranking among the ten best-paid orchestras in the U.S. — a key bargaining point for its musicians.

The musicians also agreed to assume a significantly greater share of their health insurance costs, while management reduced the number of work-rule changes it originally had requested. The agreement stipulates that musicians return to work on February 1, after the longest work stoppage by any symphony orchestra in U.S. history.

At a news conference, board negotiator Doug Kelley called the agreement a "true compromise. No one got everything." According to the Star Tribune, the orchestra had sought to save $5 million in labor costs; the new contract saves them $3.5 million in the first year. "It won't solve our deficit problem, but it will go a long way," said Kelley.

"Musicians are pleased that we have come to a solution with our board, and we are ready to work with them to begin the hard work that lies ahead," said clarinetist Tim Zavadil, lead negotiator for the musicians. "We are anxious to start performing for our community at home in Orchestra Hall once again. We know that there is a great love for this orchestra throughout the community, and we are confident that this community will, in fact, continue to support world-class music in the Twin Cities."

"Minnesota Orchestra Musicians and Board Ratify New Contract." Minnesota Orchestral Association Press Release 01/14/2014. "Three-Year Minnesota Orchestra Deal Ends 15-Month Lockout." Minneapolis Star Tribune 01/15/2014.