In Tuesday’s (4/30) Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Graydon Royce writes, “The longest work stoppage in St. Paul Chamber Orchestra history is over. After a 191-day lockout, SPCO musicians ratified a three-year contract Monday that cuts base salaries and the size of the ensemble but allows them to resume their season May 9. That leaves one thorny dispute [in the Twin Cities] to settle: The Minnesota Orchestra lockout begins its eighth month Wednesday with no talks in sight. ‘There’s a sense of relief that we can play again,’ said Carole Mason Smith, who led the St. Paul musicians’ negotiating team. ‘But it’s going to be challenging going forward.’ … The SPCO agreement cuts base salary by 18.6 percent to $60,000 for a 32-week season. Overscale pay—additional compensation for special skills or leadership—was reduced by up to 20 percent. The size of the ensemble was cut to 28 full-timers from 34, although more players can be added as needed. An enhanced retirement package was approved for musicians 55 and older. … Both sides felt pressure to salvage the remaining 14 concerts of the season after the cancellation of approximately 80 concerts. … Dobson West, the SPCO’s board chairman and interim president, acknowledged that ‘it’s been a very difficult period for everyone. I am really pleased we have gotten over this hurdle.’ ”

Posted April 30, 2013