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Minnesota Orchestra and musicians end lockout, approve new contract

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The Minnesota Orchestra's management and musicians ended a 15-month lockout Tuesday by ratifying the terms of a new contract agreement.

The orchestra says the three-year contract takes effect Feb. 1. The lead negotiator for the Minnesota Orchestral Association's board, Richard Davis, says both the musicians and the board made concessions. Clarinetist Tim Zavadil says the musicians are pleased that there's a solution and are anxious to start performing in Orchestra Hall again.

The orchestra says concerts will resume in February, but no specifics were announced.

The Star Tribune reports the average salary in the first year of the new contract will be $114,000 – down from $135,000 before the lockout. The newspaper says musicians will also pay significantly more for health care.

As KSTP reports, musicians' base pay is 15 percent lower than the 2012 level.

According to Minnesota Public Radio the musicians say the new contract keeps them among the nation's ten highest-paying orchestras. MPR says the musicians also received a promise of at least 20 weeks of classical concerts per year.

Board member Davis says in the Pioneer Press: "Our success now depends on our ability to move forward with positive spirit as one organization." MPR says the lockout was the longest labor dispute at a major American orchestra.

Having lost an entire concert season and parts of two others to the labor impasse, the musicians last month announced plans to stage their own series of concerts independent of the Orchestral Association.

Even in a year without concerts, orchestra management says it ran a deficit of more than $1 million for the fiscal year.

The lockout began in October of 2012 after musicians rejected a contract that would have cut salaries by 40 percent, the Star Tribune says. The newspaper reports the new agreement is silent on the status of former music director Osmo Vänskä. Vänskä resigned last October 1 when the lockout became one year old and forced the orchestra to cancel a pair of prestigious concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall.

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