Without contract, Minn. Orchestra lockout possibleby Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Musicians for the Minnesota Orchestra say management is threatening to lock them out at midnight Sunday unless there is a contract agreement by then.
Orchestra musicians say they will vote on a management contract proposal on Saturday.
Notification of a possible lockout was given in a cover letter musicians say they received with a final contract offer Tuesday. The letter says unless there is an agreement by midnight Sunday, when the current contract runs out, management will consider musicians locked out. Orchestra management has not commented on the letter, except to confirm that is was sent and that the lockout language is part of a legal requirement. Management will make decisions based on developments over the weekend.
For five months a contract proposal has been before the musicians, who have yet to formally respond. The musicians said they have insufficient information about the orchestra's finances.
Musician negotiator Tim Zavadil said the proposal contains cuts which will damage the orchestra, but they will put it before the players. The Orchestra management's proposal cuts average annual pay for a musician from $135,000 to $89,000, and reduces the guaranteed number of players. Orchestra management says the cuts would make the organization financially stable.
"Right now, what we plan on doing is taking this offer to the rest of the musicians on Saturday, and we will discuss it, and we will have a vote, and then we will get an answer to the board and management on Sunday," Zavadil said.
Musicians will meet Saturday afternoon to vote on the proposal, and have requested a negotiation session with management on Sunday. Orchestra management said they are open to talks this weekend. Musicians said they still want an independent audit of the orchestra's finances.