Duluth musicians strike sour note in contract dispute

Could Duluth area classical musicians walk out on the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra?

A press release from the Duluth Musicians' Association and Local 18, of the American Federation of Musicians spells out their view of an ongoing contract dispute. The musicians voted last Saturday, "overwhelmingly," to reject management's latest contract offer.

Spokesperson Lucia Magney says issues include the diminished size of the orchestra; preserving the minimum number of rehearsals required for each concert; and the musician's need to support themselves with another job.

Magney notes the musician's wages are typically in the $3500 a year range, necessitating additional income. She says musicians are unhappy with stringent attendance requirements she says serve as an obstacle to the musician's ability to make their living elsewhere.

Quoting Magney; an "insufficient number of rehearsals combined with reduced personnel on the stage severely inhibits the orchestra's ability to give the quality of performances to which our audiences have become accustomed. While we are cognizant (of) current financial challenges, cutting the quality of the product we produce will affect the future bottom line."

The performers are working under a contract that expired last August 31st.

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So far, there's been no vote to authorize a strike. (For some reason the term "strike up the band" comes to mind.) Talks continue between the DSSO and the Duluth Musicians' Association with the assistance of a Federal mediator.

The DSSO next performs February 12th in a show with a rock band performing ABBA hits.

The DSSO season continues through a May 21st finale of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" performed with a chorus.

Here's hoping the cannon fire that night is all for entertainment purposes.