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Minnesota Orchestra Board, Musicians Ratify New Contract

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The show will go on at the world-class Minnesota Orchestra.

The musicians and management reached a contract deal Tuesday to end the 15-month lockout. The agreement means concerts could be back on the stage at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis early next month.

“From our perspective, we always knew we could get it done,” said clarinetist Tim Zavadil.

Musicians will return to work Feb. 1 with concerts to resume shortly thereafter.

“We are pleased that there is a settlement and we are eager to get back to the stage at Orchestra Hall. We are eager to get back home,” Zavadil said.

The lockout was the longest for an orchestra in U.S. history. Negotiations picked up over the holidays, and crescendoed over the weekend.

In the end, the musicians agreed to take a 15 percent cut to a minimum base salary of $96,000 in the first year, but agreed to small pay increases in years two and three.

The musicians also agreed to pay a greater share of health care costs, but the agreement will keep the Minnesota Orchestra among the Top 10 orchestras in the nation according to pay scale – a key musician priority.

See more detailed contract terms here.

“It was extremely important to us that we would get some savings from this contract, and we want to thank the musicians for recognizing that we are in financial stress,” said Doug Kelley, vice chairman of the negotiating committee for the board of directors.

Management said they were losing nearly half a million dollars a month before the lockout — one that hit a sour note with both sides, and will likely take time to get over.

“You don’t lock out people for this long from this job without there being some lingering feelings,” said musician spokesman Blois Olson.

“We hope the musicians will come in, I know there is a little scar tissue here, but I hope they will come in and recognize that we all have to work together,” Kelley said.

If the Minnesota Orchestra’s endowment does well over the course of the contract, management will also share that revenue with musicians.
Management is also required to add seven new musicians, which would put the orchestra at 84 members.

Zavadil said it is unclear if Osmo Vanska will return as director. Vanska left on Oct. 1, 2013, a year after the lockout started. 

“It was devastating,” Zavadil said. “We continue to believe that it will only make us stronger if Osmo returns.”

Details of the homecoming concerts and the 2014 subscription season will be announced soon. Subscribers and donors will receive advance ordering information.

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