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Minnesota Orchestra musicians agree to 2-year contract with 25% pay cut

Minneapolis Star Tribune logo Minneapolis Star Tribune 9/28/2020 By Jenna Ross, Star Tribune

Musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra will take a 25% pay cut under a new two-year contract extension announced Monday morning.

The nonprofit's board and the members of the Twin Cities Musicians' Union also approved an amendment outlining work rules and cuts to compensation during the pandemic.

"Our staff and musician negotiators have come up with a common-sense approach ... that acknowledges the uncertain time period we are living through," board chair Margaret Bracken said in a news release.

The ratified contract, which runs through August 2022, maintains the musicians' current medical and dental benefits and expands sick leave. Orchestra members who opt not to perform onstage during the pandemic will take on "modified duties," the nonprofit said.

"Musicians recognize that this is a very difficult time for the organization due to the pandemic," said Timothy Zavadil, chair of the musicians' negotiating committee, in the news release. "This two-year agreement will provide the flexibility we need to keep the organization healthy for the long term."

In June, the orchestra and its musicians announced they'd taken a temporary, 20% pay cut. Music Director Osmo Vänskä, who agreed in June to temporarily reduce his salary by 30%, has committed to taking a 35% cut.

Even before COVID-19 hit, the Minnesota Orchestra was in the red. The orchestra posted an operating deficit of $8.8 million for fiscal year 2019 — the biggest in its history.

It's planning to perform its fall season for an empty hall, broadcasting Friday night concerts starting Oct. 2 on Classical MPR and Twin Cities Public Television.

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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