The Musicians are working tirelessly outside of the public eye to settle our contract dispute with the MOA (Minnesota Orchestral Association), with the help of the independent mediator. Each of the musicians and their families have donated one year’s pay and benefits to the Minnesota Orchestra, not with hopes of higher salaries, but with the hope of a great orchestra to serve the Twin Cities and state.
While we work toward a resolution, we cannot let recent disingenuous assertions made by the MOA stand unchallenged:
1. The MOA’s most recent offer proposed “…a return to work at expired-contract rates for a two-month period of “play and talk” negotiations…”
Who would possibly believe that the MOA, after locking the musicians out for nearly a year, would negotiate in good faith during those two months when their own cuts, ranging from 25-42%, are guaranteed to snap into effect for the balance of a two-year contract?
2. The MOA refers to an “average annual salary” of over $102,000.
The real annual base salary contained in their proposal comes to $84,903, resulting in a 25-42% pay cut for every performing musician.
3. One of the MOA’s most persistent drumbeats, parroted by the Star Tribune editorial board, is that “…the agenda of [the Musicians’] New York labor attorneys doesn’t match the best interests of Minnesota audiences.”
Our “New York Labor attorney” has quietly settled two contracts in Cleveland, an orchestra which was then able turn its united energy to raising young people’s attendance, ticket revenue, and revenue-generating residencies by promoting its brand as one of the world’s most excellent ensembles. These same inspiring results are achievable here in Minnesota, a community that prides itself on excellence.
4. “The board negotiating committee will meet anytime, anywhere, without preconditions, to negotiate,” and their proposal includes “Revenue sharing with musicians if the Orchestra met its earned income budget.”
A lockout IS a precondition, as any negotiator or mediator is aware. And as reported in the Star Tribune, Management has said it will not lift the lockout because it then sacrifices leverage.
References to “revenue sharing” are an obvious red herring. Management continues to refuse access to the basic financial documents needed for transparency. The Musicians have yet to see the 2013 budget, annual reports and annual contribution reports for the past 15 years, the 2014 budget and season, and the current total of all orchestra endowments.
Minnesota’s best interests:
- Is it in Minnesota’s best interest to have its leading newspaper embrace the notion that we can’t afford the world-class arts organization we have sustained for 110 years, even as arts giving is increasing?
- Does the New York advisory consultant hired by the MOA for their bought-and-paid-for financial analysis have Minnesota’s best interests in mind when he echoes the MOA’s downward spiral thinking, without any comparative research?
- Does the MOA’s lawyer, who locked out the Crystal Sugar workers for 2 years, have Minnesota’s best interests at heart when applying hardball industrial tactics to an organization that depends on the goodwill of the community for donations?
We think not.
Our Past and Our Future:
- The Musicians self-produced and performed 18 concerts for Minnesota audiences during our locked-out 2012-2013 season, offering free school and community concerts and helping to launch El Sistema in North Minneapolis with concerts, donations for instruments, and a regular volunteer classroom teaching presence. By contrast, MOA management spent $13.7M this past year and did not produce a single concert.
- The Dayton Family and Veteran Board Members who have a deep love for great music have generously nurtured the Minnesota Orchestra to its recent status as the “world’s greatest.”
- Audience Members and Patron Support Groups have banded together, written and rallied, to fight for the preservation of Minnesota’s treasure.
We believe all three groups have a common interest in the quality of life for our community. We continue to believe in Minnesota’s arts leadership and community-wide values of excellence. The Musicians envision a future in which we believe in ourselves and what we do best, sharing that passion and serving you, our community. We cannot do that with the ideology of defeat trumpeted by the current MOA leadership team. We can do that only by working together in a respectful and good-faith mediation process to rebuild a world-class orchestra for Minnesota.
Thank you for listening.