“A bitter lockout that silenced one of the country’s top orchestras for more than 15 months ended Tuesday when musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra approved a contract that will bring them back to the stage in early February,” writes Graydon Royce in an article posted at 11:09 pm on Tuesday (1/14) in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “Hours earlier, the orchestra board had approved the terms of a three-year deal that cuts salaries and benefits roughly 15 percent. The average salary would drop to $118,000 in the first year, from $135,000 under the expired contract. There are small salary increases in the second two years, which musicians said would reduce the total cut to 10 percent. Musicians would pay significantly more for health care…. Board negotiator Doug Kelley said … the contract was ‘a true compromise. No one got everything.’ … The deal … ‘won’t solve our deficit problem, but it will go a long way.’ … The status of former music director Osmo Vänskä remains unclear. He resigned Oct. 1, after the two sides were unable to reach agreement.… The musicians, who have been performing concerts on their own for more than a year, have announced several upcoming concerts. Leadership on both sides will determine if those programs can be folded into the subscription season…. [Musicians] were eligible for unemployment, although that eligibility was set to expire in February. Also, musician eligibility for COBRA health benefits was set to expire in March…. Now that the contract has been settled, Jon Campbell will step down as board chairman…. Kelley said [Michael] Henson will remain as CEO and president.”

Posted January 15, 2014

Pictured: Minnesota Orchestra board negotiator Doug Kelley (left) and Minnesota Orchestra musician Tim Zavadil at press conferences on Tuesday announcing the new contract agreement.