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Minnesota's ‘Greatest Orchestra In the World' Locked Out

Alex Ross, The New Yorker’s music critic, has called the Minnesota Orchestra “the greatest orchestra in the world.” On Oct. 1, the orchestra’s management locked out “the greatest orchestra in the world” because the 95 musicians refused to take an up to 50% pay cut.

While members of the Twin Cities Musicians Union/American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) Local 30-73 urged the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) to continue negotiations—“talk and play”—management canceled all concerts through Nov. 25.

Tony Ross, principal cello player and member of the negotiating committee, said:

We are saddened that instead of talking and negotiating in good faith, management decided to cancel concerts.

AFM President Ray Hair calls the lockout “economic terrorism.”

For management to resort to bullying tactics, abruptly cutting off salary and health care, to obtain unjustified and unnecessary concessions is unconscionable and inhumane.

While management is demanding 30% to 50% cuts in musicians’ pay, the MOA has raised more than $110 million to refurbish Orchestra Hall, including a new $50 million lobby that includes $14 million in taxpayer money

Twin Cities Musicians Union photo

Matt Peikin, editor of the classical music blog, writes:

Management's tactic is calculated, craven, callous, corrosive and cowardly—emboldened and made possible, in no small part, by the bullying that has happened in places as disparate as Wisconsin's legislature, Chicago Public Schools, Northern California hospitals and the worker break rooms of union-allergic Walmart and championed across the 'commentariat' at the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the Drudge Report.

The locked-out musicians will perform a gala concert Oct. 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium. You can sign a petition to support the locked-out members of the Minnesota Orchestra.

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