A bitter lockout that silenced one of the country’s top orchestras for more than 15 months ended Tuesday when musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra approved a contract that will bring them back to the stage in early February.
Hours earlier, the orchestra board had approved the terms of a three-year deal that cuts salaries and benefits roughly 15 percent. The average salary would drop to $114,000 in the first year, from $135,000 under the expired contract. There are small salary increases in the second two years of the deal, and musicians would pay significantly more for health care.
“Both the musicians and the board made concessions on issues of importance to them,” said Richard Davis, lead negotiator on the orchestra board.
“Musicians are pleased that we have come to a solution with our board, and we are ready to work with them to begin the hard work that lies ahead,” said clarinetist Tim Zavadil, a musician negotiator.
Another key component of the settlement would allow the board flexibility in hiring musicians. The contract provides for 95 full-time positions. The agreement specifies that the board will hire seven musicians over the next three years to raise the current complement of musicians to 84, from 77. No musician who has left the orchestra would lose their job.