Date: June 1, 2042
MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA MUSICIANS CELEBRATE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF LOCKOUT!
The six surviving musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra plan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their historic lockout with a wine-and-cheese party at cellist Tony Ross’s house. Despite the seemingly intractable nature of the contract dispute between the musicians and management, hopes are high that the 30-year mark in the negotiations will provide the leverage necessary to resolve the impasse—the longest in the nation by a good 29-and-a-half years.
“We gave management a perfectly reasonable counter-offer back in 2036, and are still waiting for them to respond,” said Minnesota Orchestra lead negotiator Ted Jensen. “Our hope is that we can get back to the negotiating table by the end of next year, and reach a satisfactory conclusion very soon thereafter, so that the Twin Cities can once again enjoy the cultural benefits of a world-class orchestra.”
Party attendees hoping to hear the musicians play are likely to be disappointed, however. “There’s not much you can do with three cellos, two violas, and a bassoon,” said Ross. “Besides, I haven’t touched my cello in nine or ten years, so we’re going to hire a DJ.”
Though the public bickering between the musicians and orchestra management has died down over the past few years, no one on the board of directors or in the administration was invited to the musicians’ party—a snub the musicians say was not personal. “I have a small house, and three more people would have thrown the seating all out of whack,” Ross said.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis City Council voted 8-1 to demolish the old Orchestra Hall and build a new $10.2 billion concert hall, even though the Minnesota Orchestra has never played in the current facility. In fact, because the orchestra allowed its property insurance to lapse in 2014, no one has set foot inside the building except for once-a-week cleaning crews. In an embarrassing incident in 2016, former artistic director Osmo Vänskä was arrested trying to break into the building, but since then a security fence has prevented anyone from coming within fifty feet of the entrance.
“It’s unfortunate that the hall never got used,” said Mayor Joe Mauer, who was recently elected to a record sixth term. “But the architecture is so dated now that even if the musicians could play, no one would want to go see them there. It’s essential that we build a bigger, better, more contemporary concert hall if we want to keep the Minnesota Orchestra in Minnesota.”
Asked if he himself was a classical-music fan, Mauer laughed and said, “I don’t know, maybe. I’ve never actually heard the Minnesota Orchestra play, but people tell me they were pretty good once.”
Adjusting for inflation, the Minnesota Orchestra musicians are asking for an average salary of $2.6 million, with 90 vacation days, six onsite masseuses and a minimum of two chefs, separate Jacuzzis for each section of the orchestra (two for the violins), personal limo services to and from Orchestra Hall, and rental of a private jet for travel to performances at Carnegie Hall and elsewhere in the world.
The most recent counter-offer by orchestra management included a $35,000 cash stipend, extra-large tips jars at each door, three weeks of unpaid vacation, two new vending machines, and—in the unlikely event that Carnegie Hall ever invites them back—a travel-voucher agreement with Sun Country Airlines that would give musicians a 40% discount on their airfare to New York, which they would have pay.
“We’re a lot closer to a deal than we were ten years ago,” observed negotiator Ted Jensen, who has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to the process. “All that needs to happen now is for the musicians and management to sit down, have a reasonable conversation, and find some common ground.”
No new negotiations are currently scheduled, but that won’t dampen the musicians’ celebratory spirit, they say. “Hey, it’s only music,” Ross said, philosophically. “And if you really want to hear someone saw away on a cello, there’s always the Internet.”###