Minn Orch musicians demand end to lockout

Minnesota Orchestra musicians have set a new condition in their labor dispute with the orchestra management.

Members of the musicians' negotiating committee told the orchestra's board of directors Friday they won't return to the bargaining table until management ends the seven-month long lockout.

A member of the musicians' negotiating committee, Tim Zavadil, said ending the lockout would convince musicians that management is committed to maintaining a world-class orchestra.

"We've really got to rebuild trust within the organization, and ending the lockout is the first step to doing that," said Zavadil. We believe that productive discussions can happen once the lockout ends."

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But a member of the orchestra management's negotiating committee called the request a "terrible development." Doug Kelley said members of the board want to resume negotiations with musicians, and are disappointed with their new position.

"Nobody expected the first offer to be the last offer. We expected to negotiate, have proposals and counter-proposals go back and forth, and why can't we do that?" said Kelley. "And the musicians kept going back to saying, 'you gotta end the lockout first.'"

After the musicians' presentation to the orchestra board Friday, the board passed a resolution unanimously supporting the position of management.

Orchestra management has proposed a contract that would cut the musicians' average salary by more than 30 percent, to about $89,000, but add two more weeks of vacation to 12 weeks. They're also proposing a reduction in benefits.