Members of the Minnesota Orchestra rallied in Minneapolis on Monday. (Richard Sennott / The Star…)
A late summer symphony of labor struggle in the arts that has seen lockouts involving orchestras in Indianapolis and Atlanta and a full-scale strike on the part of the Chicago Symphony Orchesta continues.
The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra failed to reach an agreement with management on a new contract by the midnight deadline Sunday and as a result, management has locked them out of their jobs. The orchestra has canceled performances through Nov. 25.
In a storyline that's become all too grimly familiar, management rejected the Minnesota musicians' appeals for arbitration and allowing the orchestra to play as talks continue. In turn, musicians refused to accept pay cuts at an average of 34%, reportedly lowering annual salaries from $134,000 to $89,000.
In a statement released Monday, American Federation of Musicians President Ray Hair denounced the lockout, describing the decision as an "ongoing campaign of economic terrorism that management is waging against the musicians of this great orchestra."
The AFM went on to claim that information received from public information documents indicate that the Minnesota Orchestral Assn. is operating with $192.5 million in assets as of August 2011, an increase of $9.4 million from the previous year. The musicians have called for an independent commission to evaluate the orchestra's finances.
The labor struggle comes during a year that has also seen disputes with the Chicago teachers union and the National Football League's referees, who returned to work last week after weeks of controversial decisions by non-union replacements. With luck, "replacement orchestras" will not become a term added to the lexicon as these disagreements continue.
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