Musicians make counteroffer in Minnesota Orchestra dispute

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The locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra have made a counterproposal to management Tuesday, less than a week after they unanimously rejected management's offer, the Star Tribune reports.

Management says the counteroffer is a "vague framework for a proposal" which calls for wage increases over three years, and said in a statement that it did not address "proposed work rule alterations, insurance premiums, individual contracts, additional pay practices or benefits."

Musicians spokesman Blois Olson confirmed the counterproposal in an interview with the Star Tribune, saying it addresses the "minimum level of restoration for musician compensation after they have been without salary or health care" since the lockout began in Oct. 2012.

Olson also said it was a "financially specific" counterprosal.

Orchestra president Michael Henson, said an offer for a pay increase at this stage of the dispute is "extraordinary," the Star Tribune reports.

Management proposed a “play and talk” deal last week that would have lifted the lockout on Sept. 30, offering the same amount of money to the players as they earned before they contract expired.

The bone of contention with the musicians came at the end of the "play and talk" after two months. The offer was that if the dispute wasn’t resolved by then, a 24-month contract would kick in and the musicians would be paid about 25 percent less than what they were making, or an average of $102,000.

The proposed cut was $23,000 more than the management offered before the lockout began last September.

The Star Tribune says the average total compensation of the 24-month contract, along with benefits, would average out at $135,000.

The make-or-break date in the dispute is Sept. 15. An agreement is needed by then in order to get the musicians back to work and in rehearsal the week of Sept. 30 in order to give them enough time to prepare for performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall on Nov. 2 and 3.

If that doesn't happen, music conductor Osmo Vänskä said he will resign.

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