Minnesota Orchestra concerts canceled, no talks scheduled

  • Article by: GRAYDON ROYCE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 1, 2012 - 11:26 PM

Hours after the Minnesota Orchestra locked out musicians over cost-cutting demands, both sides were resolute.

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totaltruthOct. 1, 12 8:42 AM

It is obvious that this community cannot support this orchestra the way things are today. It is time for the members to step up and provide a solution to this problem rather than grandstanding and blaming others....

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threed61Oct. 1, 12 8:52 AM

Good luck finding a new gig players. Orchestras all over the world are cutting back. with several going bankrupt.

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nomorepaperOct. 1, 12 8:56 AM

A shining example of what happens when you use unions to affect the price level of what the market will bear, via supply and demand. You can only artificially inflate the price (in this case salary) of something for a limited time before the market takes over, and either rationing (lockout) or salary adjustment needs to be made to correct to market levels. You cannot game the system, long term.

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commonsens4uOct. 1, 12 9:25 AM

As reported on a local TV news source, the musicians currently make an average salary of $111,000 and rejected being cut to $77,000. Still seems like a lot of $ to play for a couple hours, a few nights per week, 2/3 of the year. I get it, they are professionals, but if not enough people want to pay to see them (which is why they're short on $), then they apparently aren't worth that much.

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soccergal94Oct. 1, 12 9:37 AM

I'm an occasional orchestra goer (when I have the extra $, which has not been true for quite a few years)... anyway, I'm surprised that the musicians are complaining as much as they are. $111,000 per year salary, and they are upset about dropping down to $77,000? I know several people who have lost ALL of their income to layoffs, etc. Who's being greedy now? And, yes healthcare costs have gone up for the rest of us in the private sector too. Make a deal, and everyone should get back to work.

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unseeliectOct. 1, 12 9:42 AM

Several things seem to suggest that the actions by the management are being done not to resolve this issue, but simply to break the musicians' union. Besides the oddity of starting the season much later than usual (and conveniently, after the deadline for the contract), they dismiss out of hand an offer for binding arbitration and the musicians' offer to continue playing while the talks continued (as did the SPCO). Plus, now tthey preemptively cancel concerts for the next two months (both Atlanta and Chicago resolved their disputes three weeks after the contract ended). It makes me wonder if the construction going on at Orchestra Hall is not a new lobby, but fortifications to wait out a siege.

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dwntwnerOct. 1, 12 9:45 AM

Have the people who decided the players need a 30-50% pay cut offered to lower there salaries one penny to help?

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atwardowOct. 1, 1210:00 AM

I naturally understand the motivation of the orchestra management to control costs as every year for some time now the organization's operational expenditures have been unsustainably cutting into the endowment and investments. The orchestra members need to understand that their salaries were based on unrealistically rosy predictions about the orchestra's financial health and that some kinds of cuts are necessary. (And no, the renovation of Orchestra Hall is not the cause of this problem. The renovations are being funded by outside grants and donations, not by the orchestra's general fund.) That being said, it's worth realizing that the issue of wages and labor relations is quite different for orchestras than for other firms. Whereas in the real economy, substantial technological enhancements in productivity have controlled costs and generally lowered prices while simultaneously making more products and services available for more people, the very nature of musical performance makes productivity enhancement impossible. It takes as many people today to play a symphony by Brahms as it did 150 years ago, and making do with less while producing more is not an option as it is in a car factory or even a law firm. Preserving an orchestra's quality requires paying top musicians what they're worth lest they leave the organization and take their talents elsewhere. I am of the opinion that the cultural excellence and reputation of Minneapolis - my family's new home - cannot survive without a thriving Minnesota Orchestra, hailed by critics in this country and abroad as one of the best American orchestras and a magnet for unparalleled talent. The orchestra management needs to find a way to get donors to open their wallets, to trim as many side costs as possible, to raise ticket prices if need be (I think Minneapolitans will be willing to bear a greater role in supporting this priceless gem of an ensemble), and to stop messing with the future of an organization that has reached the inner circle of artistic excellence in this world.

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pdxtranOct. 1, 1210:02 AM

The Minnesota Orchestra's management seems to be made up of people who "know the price of everything and the value of nothing," and the commentators who proceeded me are the same ones who have commented on other threads indicating that they know nothing about orchestral music or classical musicians.

All they can say is "Unions, boo!" and "Market forces, market forces" or "It's just a hobby."

I am disgusted with management's hardline approach, and I support the musicians one hundred percent. (I participate in music on an amateur level, and I am always impressed by the talent and single-minded dedication of the pros.)

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commonsens4uOct. 1, 1210:04 AM

What the musicians need to realize is that they're entire way of living is supported by peoples' discretionary income. When the economy gets bad and people tighten up the purse strings, one of the first items cut is the $100 orchestra tickets. Demand is down. The good years of virtually limitless discretionary income are gone for the forseeable future. If the musicians don't adapt (Ex:take a pay cut to keep their job), they will be without employment in a market where there are thousands of others in their same shoes (as reported, dozens of other orchestras around the country/world are having the same problem). There are plenty of qualified replacements, look at this situation realistically. Hopefully these musicians were smart with their $ and stashed some savings during the good years when they were making $111,000 in a part-time job. Back to reality folks.

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