Minnesota Orchestra Board outlines four points to initiate progress in negotiations with Musicians' Union
Minnesota Orchestra and musicians agree to concepts that will guide future discussions, including discussing the selection of an independent financial consultant and the parameters of a financial review
(January 2, 2013) The Minnesota Orchestra Board Negotiating Committee and Musicians’ Union representatives met this afternoon in a productive three-hour session, the first held since contract talks broke off on September 30. On December 21, the Orchestra Board invited the musicians to a meeting in early January, with no preconditions, in order to restart negotiations.
At today’s meeting, the assembled parties agreed to concepts important to continued discussions: ensuring the organization’s ongoing financial stability; ensuring the organization’s commitment to artistic quality; and emphasizing the parties’ commitment to a fresh start in the contract talks, as begun in today’s negotiations. Additionally, the Board’s Negotiating Committee offered a four-point plan for Musicians’ Union consideration:
- Returning to the former mission statement: Pending approval of the full Board of Directors, the Orchestra would return to its former mission statement, which is preferred by musicians, with two slight modifications. (The two changes emphasize the importance of community service and financial sustainability.)
- Sharing 2012-2015 financial forecasts: The Orchestra Board shared with musicians its 2012-13 budget and financial forecasts for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. With receipt of these forward-looking materials, the Union now possesses comprehensive financial information dating back and forward three years. Materials already shared with the Union include: Audited financials (2011 and 2012); monthly Finance Committee minutes (2009-2012); monthly financial updates to Board and Executive Committee (2009-2012); contribution reports (2009-2012), profit and loss reports; information relating to endowment draw (2010-2013); and actuarial report on the defined benefit pension plan.
- Inviting musicians to submit a proposal for a mutually-agreeable independent financial review designed to verify the organization’s financial position: As governed by state law, the Minnesota Orchestra annually undertakes the highest level of financial review – an independent audit – in order to ensure that it operates with utmost financial soundness and integrity. The most recent audit, conducted by CliftonLarsenAllen, revealed a deficit of $6 million. To assist the Musicians’ Union in understanding the organization’s financial challenges, the Orchestra would consider the Union’s suggestion of a further independent financial review and invited musicians to submit a proposal for such a mutually-agreeable review designed to verify the organization’s financial position.
- Offering additional meeting dates: The Board expressed its desire to set a regular schedule of future meeting dates beginning in January and early February. The Union is currently checking availability and will confirm dates.
“We’re pleased with the progress made today on many fronts, including the agreement to pursue discussions concerning an independent financial analysis, and we look forward to continued conversations,” said Board Chair Jon Campbell.
Contract talks between the Orchestral Association and its musicians, who are members of the Twin Cities Musicians’ Union (Local 30-73), began on April 12 and are currently overseen by a Federal Mediator. The Orchestral Association’s proposal offers a total package averaging $119,000 per musician, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician. The proposal also includes 10 weeks of paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave. Musicians have not yet put forward a contract counterproposal. In December, the Orchestra announced a $6 million deficit, the largest in its history, despite continued cuts in administrative expenses, new efforts to build audiences, and robust fundraising.
Gwen Pappas, Director of Public Relations