Blog post suggests proposal made in Minnesota Orchestra negotiations


A blog post by a British music critic suggested a proposal has been made in the contract dispute between the management and the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, the Star Tribune reports.

Norman Lebrecht, the author of the blog Slipped Disc, posted a report Monday that he has seen a document where management proposes a two-month lift of the lockout starting Sept. 1.

Lebrecht also notes that after that, "the old contract would prevail for a two-month period of negotiations" and "if no agreement is reached on a new contract by that time, a two-year agreement would snap into effect wit 25% across-the-board pay cuts."

The proposal, however, has been deemed "absurd and unacceptable" by the musician's negotiating committee, Lebrecht writes.

Lebrecht noted that the committee is calling on all musicians to reject the proposal.

"They say it amounts to a demand that they agree to a destructive two-year contract as a condition of even restarting negotiations," the blogger wrote.

The Star Tribune says management spokeswoman Gwen Pappas issued a statement about the post, saying, "Our position is that we are respecting the negotiating process, trying to work out of the limelight, so we have no comment on the Lebrecht piece."

In addition, musicians spokesman Blois Olson would not comment, but said "there are several inaccuracies."

Minnesota Public Radio reached a musicians representative about the blog post, who responded, "No news here. I am getting a hair cut."

The musicians have been locked out since Oct. 1.

Talking with MPR by phone from London, Lebrecht told MPR said he couldn't share the documents, but could reveal that the musicians had offered to enter mediation if management let them return to work for six months under the old contract -- and management countered with the two-month, 25 percent pay cut proposal.

Lebrecht's prospects of an agreement being reached now appears grim.

"I wish I was able to tell you the dispute was over. But this may be the day the music died," he told MPR.

Lebrecht's blog post comes less than two weeks after a report suggested orchestra management and the musicians union were quietly talking behind the scenes.

After months of dates being called off in the dispute, the orchestra canceled the remainder of the season in early May. Earlier this month, management called off the orchestra's shorted summer season as well.

In addition to the departure of some musicians during the dispute, orchestra conductor Osmo Vänskä said in May that he would eave his post if the orchestra loses a prestigious Nov. 3 engagement at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

According to MPR, the conductor said he would need to start rehearsing with the musicians for the Carnegie Hall concert by early September.

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