Long lockout of Minnesota Orchestra musicians officially over

Photo by Greg Helgeson
The vote of the musicians was complex, because members of the orchestra are scattered around the globe, performing with symphony orchestras elsewhere.

The long, ugly lockout of the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra has ended.

Late Tuesday afternoon — at separate news events — musicians and the Minnesota Orchestral Association announced that both sides had ratified a three-year contract that calls for the musicians to take a 15 percent cut in the first year of the contract.

But in the next two years, the musicians will receive pay increases of 2 percent and 3 percent, meaning an overall cut over the life of the contract of about 10 percent.

Additionally, the musicians will pay increased costs for their health insurance.

All of this is a far cry from the 30 percent cuts the MOA sought when the lockout began Oct. 1, 2012.

A carrot for the musicians is a provision that will allow orchestra members to share proceeds if the MOA endowment performs well in coming years. That feature is believed to be unique in the country.

But indications are that musicians were not unified in support of the new deal.

In rejecting deals in the past, musicians had always announced unanimous votes. This time, negotiating team members said they would not announce the ratification vote.

The contract kicks in on Feb. 1, with both sides saying they hope a concert will be held in long-silent Orchestra Hall shortly after.

The vote of the musicians was complex, because members of the orchestra are scattered around the globe, performing with symphony orchestras elsewhere.

It’s not clear whether Osmo Vänskä will return as conductor of the orchestra.

“One step at a time,’’ said Doug Kelley, a leader of the MOA’s negotiating team.

Kelley did say that Michael Henson will remain as CEO of the MOA.  But Jon Campbell will step down as chairman of the board. He’d said last December that he would remain in that position until a settlement was reached.

Comments (37)

  1. Submitted by Elizabeth Erickson on 01/14/2014 - 11:19 pm.

    Minnesota Orchestra

    The lockout is finally over. Those of us who love our orchestra are overjoyed to get our orchestra back on stage. But there are a lot of battle scars; College funds have been destroyed; marriages strained; birthdays and holidays missed; beloved friends and colleagues separated; the list goes on and on. And this was all completely unnecessary. This destruction was carefully planned to inflict the maximum amount of pain onto those who simply wanted to be treated fairly and with respect. Callous statements made by Michael Henson encouraged our top players to seek work elsewhere if they didn’t like it here. That was the last straw for me as a patron and donor.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/15/2014 - 08:22 am.

      Really?

      “This destruction was carefully planned to inflict the maximum amount of pain onto those who simply wanted to be treated fairly and with respect…”

      Really?

      • Submitted by Elizabeth Erickson on 01/15/2014 - 09:01 am.

        Yes, really. From the absolute beginning, the MOA was using brass knuckle punches to the kidneys of the musicians. There will be books written about the kind of dirty pool the the MOA and it’s Crystal Sugar lockout lawyers engaged in during this mess. I stand by this statement.

    • Submitted by george jaquith on 01/18/2014 - 08:02 am.

      Open Letter to Pres. Henson

      Dear President Henson,

      Though relieved that the musicians have a new contract, many concerns about our beloved Orchestra remain. We have no guarantees that in three years the same labor conflicts and obtuse activities may not return. Many of the musicians are planning to use the Orchestra as a place holder while looking else where. In early December I wrote the letter that follows to the Executive Board, the MOA members and yourself. I maintained a mostly neutral position until the tragic resignation of Osma Vanska and the cancellation of prestigious concerts in New York and Europe. After extensive reading of web sites, periodicals and blogs, I decided that the situation was without redemption. I came to support Rep. Phyllis Kahn´s proposed bill to create community ownership of the Orchestra. I also called for the resignation of Mr. Henson based on expert analysis from different circles.

      Aside from any deficit, the greatest liability to the organization´s financial and possibly artistic survival is yourself. Many patrons have written to say that you must be sent packing and that they are not inclined to donate until you are replaced. I had planned on including the Orchestra in my will. It indicated poor judgement and ethical bankruptcy that you took a $200,000 bonus on top of an annual salary of $400,000 plus benefits in a declining economy. At the same time you were planning to cut wages from thirty to fifty percent. You resisted suggestions of returning the bonus. To me anyone in non profit arts management should never expect private executive level compensation. It makes an average American and retired public school educator like myself repelled a the idea of giving to the endowment fund, no matter how much I deeply love classical music.

      In the negotiations you said you would take the same percentage cut as the musicians. I wrote to Ms. Pappas and the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra to see if that indeed happened but am still waiting for an answer. Your moral authority is deeply compromised by the failed strategy taken by yourself and the executive board. We all paid the price for too long.

      For the well being of the Orchestra, would it not be better for all concerned if you relinquished the title of CEO and President? Who must take the major responsibility for this destructive nightmare that damaged so many lives? Esteemed music industry analyst Alex Ross in the NEW YORKER (11/25/2013) concluded: ¨The swift plunge of this magnificent orchestra looks to be one of the most flagrant cases of mismanagement in the recent history of American classical music. ¨

      I trust that Board and you will reflect deeply, taking in the final analysis the most morally courageous course.

  2. Submitted by Elizabeth Erickson on 01/14/2014 - 11:30 pm.

    Minnesota Orchestra

    I simply don’t trust the current management to use my money wisely. They have made so many incredibly bad decisions in the past several years and as of yet, have not taken any responsibility for the mess that they alone created. I will continue to buy season tickets as I have done for 30 years. And I will continue to directly support the musicians with my donations. As long as Michael Henson is in charge, I will not give any money to the MOA. New leadership is needed for a fresh start.

    • Submitted by Gina Hunter on 01/15/2014 - 09:23 am.

      MOA Governance Needs Reform

      I’m with you, Elizabeth. I was shocked to hear Henson will remain as President. And if Nancy Lindahl (I think Nancy?) is the new Chairman of the Board, nothing will change, in my opinion. The governance structure of the MOA needs reform. The work is not yet done.

      • Submitted by Sarah Schmalenberger on 01/15/2014 - 11:02 am.

        REFORM and REPRESENTATION is the answer

        Indeed, there must be a substantial change in management and board, beginning with Henson’s departure. But I would add that there should be representation by the audience members as well as the musicians in these administrative groups. Further, those with skills in legislative matters need to bring about effective changes in the governance system for non-profit boards — no longer can we allow boards to elect themselves (I think this is called “Croneyism?”) and/or make decisions without oversight or accountability protocols. Those responsible for locking out the musicians manipulated the current system of philanthropic administration to the peril of a cherished cultural institution. They will not change until the law change. I also hope that we community members also realize the importance of our own power to demand answers, honesty, and change.

  3. Submitted by Paul Cantrell on 01/15/2014 - 12:46 am.

    What did the lockout accomplish?

    Those salary numbers sound very close to the musicians’ 2010 (which management rejected). We’ll have to wait for the gory details, but first appearances are that we could have been here almost four years ago — with far, far less damage done.

    It seems that the lockout was nothing but an awful, tragic waste.

  4. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/15/2014 - 06:23 am.

    Careful planning

    For myself, I think the notion that what happened with the lockout represents some sort of careful planning, of destruction or of anything else, just doesn’t make sense. The deal that was struck was painful but reasonable, the mark of the kind of a deal that can be made in these circumstances.

    A great deal of damage has been done to the orchestra, some of it immediately reparable, some of it not. Going forward, the orchestra is going to need community support, and to achieve that, it’s important for both sides to put aside their differences, and their past animosities, and work together to rebuild that support. If they don’t, this orchestra will not survive.

  5. Submitted by elliot rothenberg on 01/15/2014 - 10:00 am.

    Osmo Vanska

    It will be a good deal only if Osmo Vanska returns.

  6. Submitted by Sarah Schmalenberger on 01/15/2014 - 10:54 am.

    Musicians stay, Henson goes

    Brava, musicians for persevering with grace and with MUSIC that would not be silenced. Although I was happy to donate my money and time to support their efforts, I now must draw a line in the sand for what I believe must happen for their way forward to be truly a healing journey for all. That is to say, that until Michael Henson is gone entirely from the MOA, my money goes only to purchasing tickets to hear the musicians. Should there be an initiative to buy out Henson’s remaining contract, then I might be persuaded to help such a campaign. But I will not donate a cent until he is gone.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/15/2014 - 01:22 pm.

      me either…

      Henson seems so hated by all the musician lovers that I guess he should be gone. I for sure won’t donate while he is there. Of course I never donated and never will. Like at least 95% of the world, western classical music holds no allure for me. I’ve been listening to serious jazz for close to fifty years, not the pop stuff that gets played at orchestra hall but serious artistic music. Except for maybe Wynton Marsalis, I doubt you could find one musician in the history of jazz that has been treated with half the dignity that the MOA musicians sneer at. This organization is an outlier to the marketplace of cultural entertainment. The fact that someone devotes themselves fully to an artistic endeavor, no matter how worthy, does not guarantee them an upper middle class income. As bad as Henson and his cronies have sounded to me through this whole ordeal, the musicians and their extreme partisans, as posted here on Minnpost, sound spoiled and detached from the real world. When Duke Ellington couldn’t keep together one of the greatest jazz orchestras in history together because the marketplace wouldn’t support it, that was just too bad. I’ve lost jobs when tech companies went downhill partly because of bad executive decisions and partly because the marketplace changed. Too bad for me. Fortunately there have been other tech jobs just as there are other jobs for musicians. Maybe they’d be better off moving on rather then staying and poisoning the atmosphere with their perpetual, unresolvable grievances.

  7. Submitted by John Smith on 01/15/2014 - 12:27 pm.

    You just don’t get it?

    So to keep insulting the board and the leadership of the board is beyond understandable. They are the people that donate millions of dollars a year to keep this thing afloat, and now to call out Nancy who is one of te great philanthropic leaders of the community(i just googled her)and who has given millions to this and other charities? You are confirming that the musicians and the rabid supporters don’t understand that they are the true definitions of biting the hand that feeds you.

    The union saw a big pile of money and some musician supporters saw this as the second phase of occupy wall street. The board said this money is for the long term good of the orchestra, and luckily we had mature leaders that just didn’t give in and understood they were protecting this asset for the long term. Too bad it took te muscnas until two months ago to stop acting like spoiled teenagers.Hopefully these comments don’t cause the major donors to give these funds to the truly and not entitled musicians and their supporters.

    • Submitted by Sarah Schmalenberger on 01/15/2014 - 01:48 pm.

      insulting the supporters, you are

      Excactly which hand of a management or board member fed anything to anyone this past year? I believe it was the musicians who fed the community MUSIC. And what supporters did you witness as rabid, or did you witness riots and drool? If so then please provide pictures because I spoke with some very intelligent people who gathered in support of the music, perhaps you misinterpreted their passion as a disease. And since when do actions of charity – or for that matter, uncharitable actions – define wholly a person as unequivocally good or above reproach? Finally, you might consider following the SOSMN’s example of documenting your allegations with actual proof, especially in regards to the union’s big pile of money.

    • Submitted by Amy Adams on 01/15/2014 - 02:58 pm.

      Oh please…”John Smith”…put down that glass of Koolaid.

      There is one small group that believes, or rather Believed, as you do. That group, comprised of MOA leadership and some on the board, caused all this damage and waste. That some finally used their own good sense and came forward to talk to each other is a sign that all is not lost.
      You did give me a good chuckle with your big brave username.

    • Submitted by Arthur Horowitz on 01/15/2014 - 06:49 pm.

      Come on—is your name really “John Smith”?

      As a non board member who has only contributed nearly $100,000 (of real real money)over the years, possibly not counting 2 to 4 full seasons subscriptions (and attendance since 1971) I am quite content to insult the board–many of whose members are personal acquaintances and some even friends.

      You obviously have no concept of what the Minnesota Symphony means or is. It is not another Junior League” project or a community chest charity, but is what living in this community is about.

      Someday, perhaps you might even go to Orchestra Hall to hear the orchestra at a concert. Remember not to applaud during pauses between movements of a work (although this was acceptable in the 19th century.)

  8. Submitted by John Edwards on 01/15/2014 - 01:55 pm.

    The true cause of the settlement?

    Star-Tribune news report today: . . . (The musicians) were eligible for unemployment, although that eligibility was set to expire in February. Also, musician eligibility for COBRA health benefits was set to expire in March.”

    Despite various claims of noble purposes, the fact that the strikers’ unemployment was about to run out hardly seems a coincidence in the settlement. Perhaps the orchestra’s patrons should thank Congressional Republicans’ for their efforts to stop the expensive and endless benefits. According to the liberal AARP’s Jan-Feb Bulletin, Minnesota’s maximum unemployment weekly benefit is $610 (and that is for a person with no dependents) which is nearly double the $310 in Illinois and second in the nation to New Jersey’s $624.

    • Submitted by Sarah Schmalenberger on 01/15/2014 - 02:17 pm.

      Stop, already!

      Yes, you figured it out, it was the insurance all along!…and it was always about the money…speaking of which, the city was just about to press further into the breach of lease contract with the hall, that would have cost the MOA a whole lotta money.

      Seriously, Mr. Edwards (and earlier, the infamous Mr. Smith), give it a rest with the lines-in-the-sand-drawing rhetoric. It doesn’t contribute a thing to the need for real solutions. BOTH sides have professed a willingness to work together, so let’s try to wrap our heads (and yes, yes, you may still think to yourselves that I and the others you have hated throughout this ordeal have tiny heads much smaller than yours – just refrain from blurting it out now) around a way forward. And come to a concert, the music will do you good!

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/15/2014 - 02:34 pm.

        Sarah, please…

        For the last year of reading comments here and watching the flames fly for any commenter not totally in favor of the musicians, I would say it is the people on your side who have been implying that anyone who doesn’t agree is the one with the small head. I have often backed the musicians to a degree in my comments here but I have been flamed by the people on the side of the musicians more than once, not unlike what you just did here. Perhaps there are others besides Mr Edwards and “the infamous Mr. Smith” who should give it a rest. Give a listen to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. It will do you good!

        • Submitted by Amy Adams on 01/15/2014 - 03:05 pm.

          Bill, I remember those so-called flaming incidents…

          …it was as much a case of incredibly thin skin and a chip on your shoulder as anything else.
          Sarah’s completely entitled to her opinion, I happen to agree with it, while appreciating your input very much.
          The musicians…our friends, colleagues, partners, teachers…have been through much. I stand ready to put in place any ridiculous insult I read, and that’s all Sarah is doing.
          Let it rest. Time to heal.

          • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 01/15/2014 - 03:40 pm.

            Amy,

            I see no ridiculous insult in what Mr Edwards said. He offered an idea and nothing more. If you meant to say that Sarah has “incredibly thin skin” then I would agree with you. I would say that the chip is not on my shoulder.

            • Submitted by Amy Adams on 01/15/2014 - 04:29 pm.

              He (Edwards) called them “strikers”…

              and attributed the end of the lockout to the end of their unemployment. Stand for a minute in the shoes of the orchestra musicians, and see if you can spot the insult.

        • Submitted by Sarah Schmalenberger on 01/15/2014 - 03:30 pm.

          flamed you?

          Umm, having different opinion than you, asking to stop drawing lines and discuss what issues are at stake in moving on, does not constitute a flame because – here it is – I wasn’t insulting you. Calling someone the names that Mister Smith (above) has lobbed at others many times over is inflammatory. And I am allowed to be mistrustful of those whom I believe have mismanaged money and facts; these are not whimsical beliefs but informed opinions that, true enough, could be interpreted another way. To borrow a famous phrase from President Reagan, “trust, but verify”

          As to A Love Supreme, you will get absolutely no difference of opinion from me on that one. Now there was a genius, and his music remains (in my opinon) as relevant and revolutionary today as it was then.

    • Submitted by Elizabeth Erickson on 01/15/2014 - 06:53 pm.

      And here it is—16 months after the lockout began. You still don’t know the difference between a lockout and a strike. For God’s sake, go take a civics class or something!

  9. Submitted by John Smith on 01/15/2014 - 06:13 pm.

    If anybody got roasted unjustly …

    It was orchestra leadership. A group that donates a very large chunk of the budget and a large chunk of their time so the community can have a decent orchestra, was thanked by personal and zero courtesy and class.

    Even when they hosted an event that raised a million dollars for the salaries of the musicians they were heckled and donors intimidated.
    I guess the occupy wall street crowd still had a bit of angst to get out.

    But hey it isnt like these are new tactics of organized labor, but I guess charity that gives musicians six figure salaries wasnt enough. I would love to see a few million of the charity that is being given to the orchestra, given instead to a homeless shelter or food shelf cause the entitled attitude and conduct of musician leadership of the last year would justify it.

  10. Submitted by John Bracken on 01/15/2014 - 09:23 pm.

    By the numbers

    Osmo made $1.1 mil a year. Taxpayers give the Orchestra a million a year. The Orchestra also profits big time by its charitable status. 98% of Minnesotans have no interest in the Orchestra.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/18/2014 - 09:12 am.

    This was a management plan

    It’s pretty clear that the lock-out was part of an over-all financial strategy going back at least three years. The play for remodel funding, the draw downs on the endowment, the presentation by ALEC, etc. This management team wasn’t stumbling from one bad decision to the next, this was planned. It just didn’t work. AND if per chance someone should find that this WASN’T planned, that’s actually worse and even more damning to the management team.

    I know management supporters would rather that the musicians would suffer in silence until they caved into to a 40% pay cut but you don’t always get you want. In situations like this everyone tries to play the cards they have as they can. Management wasn’t abused, they were exposed, and that strategy paid off.

    For some reason a lot of folks who don’t seem to know much about the situation have decided to weigh in now in support of Management. I don’t know what’s up with that.

    It’s been interesting to watch MOA supporter attempt and fail to control the narrative over the last 15+ months. They tried unsuccessfully for months to establish the story that the musicians were making unreasonable demands, refusing to negotiate, and talking to everyone BUT MOA. Those claims were simply false and couldn’t hold up over time. Now it seems some of the same people are trying to establish a narrative that the musicians were rude and abusive, as if a 15 month lock out is the model of respect and dignity. Did management get beat up a little? Maybe. If you don’t have the guts for a fight don’t start one. The cavalier approach American executives sometimes take with other peoples livelihoods sometimes backfires. Some people seem to have forgotten that this is town where some of the fiercest labor battles in the country were fought just blocks away in the 1930s.

    The orchestra will move forward, but there are unresolved issues that will have to be addressed eventually.

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/19/2014 - 09:04 am.

    Rude and abusive

    I never thought the musicians were rude or abusive, just unfocused and undisciplined. They complained about a lot of irrelevant issues, in ways that tended to undermine the long term credibility of the Minnesota Orchestra of which they were a part. The dispute is settled now, but the long term problems will continue. If and when the MOA goes before the legislature for more money, they will have to explain why the taxpayers of Minnesota should support an organization of incompetent crooks. They will have to deal with the fact that by asking for subsidies based on cooked books, they presented the legislature as a collection of credulous fools. Legislators don’t like to be presented as a collection of credulous fools.

    I expect we will get over this stuff. Labor and management will eventually see that they have interests in common. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/19/2014 - 05:23 pm.

      Maybe but….

      ” The dispute is settled now, but the long term problems will continue. If and when the MOA goes before the legislature for more money, they will have to explain why the taxpayers of Minnesota should support an organization of incompetent crooks. They will have to deal with the fact that by asking for subsidies based on cooked books, they presented the legislature as a collection of credulous fools. Legislators don’t like to be presented as a collection of credulous fools.”

      I don’t think may legislators were insulted. I agree, MOA will have find a way to assure the public that it won’t make similar mistakes in the future, but that’s a good thing because it may mean that the MOA won’t actually make similar mistakes in the future. At any rate, it was management’s decision to deploy the most extreme strategy available, a lock-out, that created an extreme crises. I don’t think the musicians are responsible for management’s credibility issues, MOA continued to make a series of false statements throughout the lock-out. For instance there were claims that MOA lost money on it’s concerts that turned out to be false. Claims the musicians weren’t talking to MOA negotiators when they were actually meeting with them behind the scenes. Claims that the musicians hadn’t made their position clear i.e. “What do they want?” when in fact they had made their position clear from the beginning. MOA supporters were all over the board with their public comments and commentary. Is that discipline? The strib actually has a nice wrap up today, but it puts the lie to a lot of MOA claims that were made over the last few months.

      One thing that seems to be clear from the Strib article is that banking executives seem to have been in charge that they were pretty intransigent regarding the demands. These guys had no experience with labor negotiations. I’d said this before, bankers are simply not accustomed to negotiating, they make their money and budgets by applying conditions unilaterally without concessions. They never work with unionized work forces, and rarely have customers that can effectively push back. An Orchestra is whole different animal.

      I’m not saying the musicians were perfect, but I cut them more slack because they were responding to an extreme management tactic, they did not go into this with a planned strategy to begin with. MOA on the other was following a play book they’d written, organized and prepared or long in advance. I think that given the fact they they are musicians, not lawyers or labor experts, they did pretty good under the circumstances. I did think it was odd that Hansen, the CEO, was nowhere to found in the Strib article? Makes you wonder, who was really driving the boat at MOA?

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/20/2014 - 09:03 am.

    Insults

    I don’t think may legislators were insulted.

    No, the problem is that they were made to look like fools.

    “For instance there were claims that MOA lost money on it’s concerts that turned out to be false.”

    I don’t think that turned out to be false. If the orchestra doesn’t lose money on concerts, why do they ask for contributions?

    “Claims the musicians weren’t talking to MOA negotiators when they were actually meeting with them behind the scenes.”

    I don’t know that I ever made that claim myself. For all I know, the two sides may have been meeting on a daily basis. The problem was that they were talking past each other. We don’t know how this dispute was resolved.

    “Claims that the musicians hadn’t made their position clear i.e. “What do they want?” when in fact they had made their position clear from the beginning.”

    A negotiating position is different from people may or may not want.

    ” MOA supporters were all over the board with their public comments and commentary. Is that discipline?”

    During the dispute, management was usually criticized for being intractable in their demands. They weren’t “all over the board”, as the posting seems to acknowledge, “One thing that seems to be clear from the Strib article is that banking executives seem to have been in charge that they were pretty intransigent regarding the demands.”

    I don’t know who was driving the parties behind the scenes. My sense is that management was exceptionally numbers driven, and I suppose that’s consistent with the participation of bankers.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/20/2014 - 10:04 am.

      Don’t ruin it now Hiram

      Hiram,

      “I don’t think that turned out to be false. If the orchestra doesn’t lose money on concerts, why do they ask for contributions?”

      Those claims are false. The revenue from concerts was something like $8 million and the direct concert expenses, not including musicians salaries were around $5 million. The reason they need donations is because the concerts aren’t the only “expense”.

      “Claims the musicians weren’t talking to MOA negotiators when they were actually meeting with them behind the scenes.”

      “I don’t know that I ever made that claim myself. For all I know, the two sides may have been meeting on a daily basis… (snip) ”

      One of the Bachman’s (and presumably a donor or board member) wrote an Strib letter claiming that musicians weren’t talking to MOA or making their negotiating position clear. These claims were made repeatedly by many MOA supporters, although I don’t recall if you made them here and I’m not gonna go re-read hundres of comments just to find out!

      We do know how this was resolved, there’s an article in the Strib that explains it: http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/music/241031281.html They resolved it by talking to each other, over the course of the last few months. And we know that the musician’s made their position clear from the beginning.

      “A negotiating position is different from people may or may not want.”

      False distinction, the musicians made their negotiation position clear. Word play doesn’t change reality.

      I have to admit, I am mistaken in characterizing MOA comenters and supporters as being all over the board. They were pretty consistent, but their statements were consistently false. Now I don’t know why that was, I don’t know where they got their information.

      Now Hiram, don’t sacrifice your integrity on behalf of MOA management. The points I’m making here are well documented.

      Another thing that you seem to have been wrong about is the role of the board. Over the months you have argued that the board has little if any role in this, and that their hands are tied in various ways. However it turns out that the musicians were in direct negotiations with the board and it’s representatives. It looks like it was other way round, Hansen was cut out and the board was driving the bus. Now to be clear, I’m not accusing you of dishonesty of or anything, but I’m wondering (although I doubt I’ll ever know) where you were getting your information? It would appear that MOA supporters were as much a target of MOA misinformation as everyone else?

      Look, everyone got beat up a little here, that’s the nature of such disputes. I just think it’s disingenuous to blame the musician’s for management’s credibility problems. This business of insulating executives from the consequences of their decisions and pretending someone else is responsible is sooooo typical and just strikes me as dishonest and bizarre.

      And by the way, politicians look like fools every day. I’m not sure this is even a blip on the radar screen as far as that’s concerned. They’re used to it. This was small beer as far as that goes.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/20/2014 - 10:43 am.

    “The revenue from concerts was something like $8 million and the direct concert expenses, not including musicians salaries were around $5 million. The reason they need donations is because the concerts aren’t the only “expense”.

    My impression is that it is the function of the MOA to put on concerts. Do they have a non concert business that’s generating expenses? Are they selling used cars on the side? Badly?

    “Over the months you have argued that the board has little if any role in this, and that their hands are tied in various ways. However it turns out that the musicians were in direct negotiations with the board and it’s representatives.

    What I think was the case is that the board as a whole doesn’t play much of a role in orchestra management. But a faction within the board would, that would be some sort of executive committee. The function of such an executive committee is to make the broad policy decisions which management implements and the larger board pretty much rubber stamps. That’s just the way these things work, particularly in a case where you have such a large board. We don’t know what happened inside the board to conclude this dispute. What, based on no inside knowledge whatever, we know is that somehow talks took place between representatives of the union, and members of the executive committee. What we don’t know is whether those talks took place with the knowledge and consent of management, or for that matter, the lead negotiators for the union.

    “I just think it’s disingenuous to blame the musician’s for management’s credibility problems.”

    Look, the musicians basically said management cooked the books when they asked the legislature for money for the renovation. I think it’s disingenuous to say that wasn’t an attack on management’s credibility.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/20/2014 - 11:34 am.

    Again?

    ” What we don’t know is whether those talks took place with the knowledge and consent of management, or for that matter, the lead negotiators for the union.”

    Well, if the resolution took place WITHOIUT the knowledge and consent of management, what did MOA pay those guys for last year? We know that board negotiators were meeting the musicians lead negotiators, there was no one else to meet with.

    “Look, the musicians basically said management cooked the books when they asked the legislature for money for the renovation. I think it’s disingenuous to say that wasn’t an attack on management’s credibility.”

    Sure, it was an attack on their credibility, but the facts supported that attack. Again, credibility wasn’t damaged by the attacks, it was damaged by the facts as they emerged. MOA drew on the endowment and told everyone they didn’t have a revenue problem or a deficit. Then all of the sudden they locked out the musicians because they had a $6 million deficit and an intractable revenue problem. Look, you don’t get to whack off 40% of a unionized labor salary or $5 million from a budget without having to answer some questions? Duh. And if you don’t have convincing answers for those questions whose fault is that?

    The only people who don’t seem to realize that the role of the MOA is to produce concerts are certain members of the MOA who just spent 16 months having no concerts, and still came out $1.5 million in the hole. They spent 16 months having no concerts and rang up a $1.5 million deficit and your telling me that the concerts are responsible for ALL their expenses? This is just getting goofy. Meanwhile the musicians you’ll recall… produced concerts.

    The lock-out has damaged the MOA brand and management credibility. That lock-out wasn’t the musician’s idea. You can try, but you will fail to shift responsibility for the lock-out and it’s consequences to the musicians. Frankly, I think the more one tries to make that shift, the more one damages one’s own credibility.

    We can move forward, but we can’t rewrite history or pretend that history didn’t start until three weeks ago. The chips have fallen, as they always do, deal with it and move on.

    Look, it’s not about humiliating people, it’s about learning from mistakes. You learn from history or you repeats it… I say learn.

  16. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/20/2014 - 02:46 pm.

    Again.

    if the resolution took place WITHOIUT the knowledge and consent of management, what did MOA pay those guys for last year?

    Managing the orchestra presumably. A big factor in reaching a settlement here was allowing the various parties a way to save face. By telling folks they went around management, labor can say their campaign of undermining management was a success. Who knows, maybe it was.

    “Sure, it was an attack on their credibility, but the facts supported that attack.”

    Oh, I am sure there was evidence supporting their claim and evidence contradicting it. Facts don’t emerge out of nowhere, somebody emerges them. Somebody made the decision to talk about the book cooking, and so the question because, for what reason? Who were they speaking to that issue, and what was the message they wished to convey?

    “We can move forward, but we can’t rewrite history or pretend that history didn’t start until three weeks ago. The chips have fallen, as they always do, deal with it and move on.”

    History is written and rewritten all the time. And people pretend things about history all the time. All parties would be well advised to put this painful dispute behind them as best they can.

    “Look, you don’t get to whack off 40% of a unionized labor salary or $5 million from a budget without having to answer some questions?”

    I don’t know why not. Management is under no particular obligation to explain it’s positions. The fact is, they explained their position quite a lot, just not to the satisfaction of a group of people whose interest it was not to find those explanations satisfactory.

    I do think these managers are headed for a day of reckoning with the board. Did they achieve the objectives for which they were hired, or at least make satisfactory progress toward achieving those objective? I have no idea myself, and it’s up to the board to decide.

    Certainly, the MOA’s credibility has been damaged. I see commentary in lots of places about how folks won’t support the orchestra even with the settlement. Such a withholding of support is hardly in the interest of the players, but there it is, one of the consequences of attacking MOA credibility, another wound that it will take time, effort and even money to heal, if indeed it can be healed.

    “Look, it’s not about humiliating people, it’s about learning from mistakes.”

    The point of labor negotiations isn’t to provide learning opportunities, it’s to reach deals.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/21/2014 - 09:55 am.

    Sheesh.

    Hiram, if you start a negotiation by telling me your going whack my salary by 40% or more and make 200 changes to my work rules… I’m gonna ask why? And your going to have to provide some answers one way or another. You saw what happens when you don’t… no settlement for 15 montsh. Now maybe YOU, as an at-will employee don’t get to ask that question, but that’s not the musicians problem. The other you guys seem to keep forgetting is that MOA is NOT a privately owned entity. Non-profit quasi public institutions have different transparency rules and expectations. MOA isn’t a bank.

    Actually, what I’m seeing is declarations that donations will be withheld until there’s a change in management of some kind, it’s not just about the settlement. Frankly guys like you are as responsible for that as anyone because management supporters have created an image of disfunction. We’ve been hearing for months that patrons and board members wanted a settlement but were powerless to make it happen. Then we heard that management didn’t want to settle simply because they felt like they were being humiliated and attacked in public. Then supporters would enter the fray with bizarre claims like they didn’t know what the musicians wanted as if they couldn’t see the same website everyone else was looking at. The musicians and their supporters had public information sessions for crying out loud. It was like these people were trapped in some kind of self-conformation bubble. From the outside it looked completely disfunctional. So yes, some people are saying they want THAT to change before they send in money again. Since that can be changed there’s no reason to write off those donations forever.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 01/21/2014 - 11:57 am.

      if you start a negotiation by telling me your going whack my salary by 40% or more and make 200 changes to my work rules… I’m gonna ask why?

      You might very well ask “why”. You might ask a number of questions, some of which might get answered to your satisfaction, others might not. If you don’t like the answers you get and don’t get, presumably you are free to seek employment elsewhere. It’s a free country. Any employee can ask any employer any question. And employers are just as free to answer them any way they like.

      “if you start a negotiation by telling me your going whack my salary by 40% or more and make 200 changes to my work rules… I’m gonna ask why?”

      To the best of my knowledge, the MOA was not charged with any legal failure to disclose.

      “what I’m seeing is declarations that donations will be withheld until there’s a change in management of some kind, it’s not just about the settlement.”

      And part of the reason for that was that management was attacked for issues that were irrelevant to the negotiation, but were harmful to orchestra long term. It’s the price labor is paying for their tactics. I hope they got value for it.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/21/2014 - 10:43 am.

    Not to belabor the point…

    Look, again, MOA isn’t a bank. People don’t make “donations” to banks and banks don’t rely on donations for revenue. You have donors who are asking for more transparency, that’s not so much to ask. You spent 15 months being intransigent about the labor contract and now what? You’re going to lose donors because you refuse to provide a little more transparency? And your going blame the musicians for THAT? You have a credibility problem, the more you act like management operations and finances can’t be more transparent, and the more you push back, the more it looks like you have something to hide and the harder it will be to get donations. This isn’t brain surgery, it’s pretty simple. Stop whining and find a way to satisfy donors expectations. Besides, more transparency is probably a good thing for MOA, it just might save the institution in the long run.

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