Musicians of the MN Opera Orchestra say they've authorized strike

Minnesota Opera's "Silent Night"
The Minnesota Opera Orchestra has been working without a contract for six months. They have now authorized a strike.
MPR Photo/Euan Kerr

Updated: 6:40 p.m.

Musicians in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra have authorized a strike. The members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 30-73 voted unanimously, according to a union statement.

They've been working without a contract for six months.

The players say management has cut their work by more than 40 percent and has not given guarantees of their future as an orchestra with the opera. The musicians also allege the Minnesota Opera management has not shared a “strategic plan/detailed company vision and all financial information” about the organization.

“The President and management owe our community world-class productions, including a world-class orchestra, and a clear vision for the future of the Minnesota Opera,” the statement said. 

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

In press conference Friday outside the Minnesota Opera Center in Minneapolis, musicians said they were not looking forward to a strike.

“We are an asset to this community. Without an orchestra, it isn't an opera. We don't want to strike, but we've been left no choice,” said negotiation committee chair and bassist John Michael Smith, who has been with the orchestra for 42 years.

It's not clear if, or when, they might go on strike. The musicians say they are willing to meet with opera management and the board soon.

In a statement, the Minnesota Opera called the strike authorization an “unnecessary step” saying it has been “responsive, transparent and accommodating to their numerous requests.”

“Furthermore, in September, both parties agreed to negotiate in good faith and operate under the terms of the previous contract until a new agreement could be reached,” the statement said.  

The Minnesota Opera is scheduled to perform “The Daughter of the Regiment” at the Ordway beginning Feb. 4.

The professional orchestra which serves the opera company was established 60 years ago.