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Classical Notes: January 24, 2011 Archive

Duluth-Superior Symphony Musicians Reject Contract Offer

Posted at 12:14 PM on January 24, 2011 by John Birge

Musicians of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra rejected their latest contract offer last weekend.

According to a release from the musician's union, "the issues in dispute include preserving a minimum number of rehearsals, the diminished size of the orchestra, and the musicians' ability to take on employment elsewhere, which has been affected by the orchestra's excessively stringent attendance policy."

Typical DSSO wage is $3500 per year, low enough that musicians want the option to miss rehearsals to take occasional jobs elsewhere in order to supplement their income.

But it's an interesting conundrum: On one hand, musicians want management to preserve the number of rehearsals, citing quality concerns. At the same time, musicians want to be able to miss more rehearsals; won't that affect quality as well? Would quality be better if musicians were paid more competitively?

As in all stories, there are certainly many facets to this one, many legitimate points on both sides, and more nuance than can be observed by an outsider. Let's hope for a satisfactory resolution, so as to avoid the a strike like the current one at the Detroit Symphony, now nearly four months old.