Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra mark one year locked-out by orchestra management as Orchestra Hall re-opens


The locked-out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra and supporters rallied outside Orchestra Hall October 1, marking one year since management initiated the lock-out.

The day also brought news of the resignation of Osmo Vanska, the orchestra’s music director. Speakers mourned Vanska’s departure but vowed to continue the musicians’ effort to settle a fair contract. Speakers also urged supporters to attend concerts that the Musicians are producing independently of management,

(The next concerts produced by the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra will be November 14-15. See page 3 of the Minneapolis Labor Review).

A crowd of 200-300 people gathered outside Orchestra Hall October 1, to support the locked-out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, members of Twin Cities Musicians Union Local 30-73.

“We thank you for your support… as we strive to preserve what this community has built over the past 110 years,” said Tim Zavadil, clarinetist and lead negotiator for the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. Zavadil said to be marking one-year locked-out was “shocking” to the musicians.

During the now one-year-long lock-out, Zavadil noted, the Musicians had presented nearly 20 sold-out concerts independent of management.

Tony Ross, principal cellist of the Minnesota Orchestra has been a spokesman for the Musicians during the lock-out. “Behind me is the new hall. Look what they’ve built,” he said. “They’ve built that while attempting to tear down an institution.”

Ross continued, “we want to serve our community. It is the community here who owns this orchestra. It is not the management… We will not let them stop the music. If we have to play every other hall in the region we will, until we get back here where we belong.”

Twin Cities Musicians Union president Brad Eggen spoke to the rally: “The last couple of days… have been the most disappointing in my entire career…”

“The goal at the [negotiating] table yesterday was to sustain this orchestra,” Eggen said, to reach some kind of agreement that would allow the Carnegie Hall concerts to go ahead and conductor Osmo Vanska to stay.

Eggen related how negotiations with management concluded the day before. Management left the room for a short time, then returned and said “Thank you… we’re too far apart. We’re not negotiating any more.” Within minutes, Eggen added, management sent out a news release announcing that they had cancelled the Carnegie Hall concerts.

American Federation of Musicians president Ray Hair also addressed the rally. One year ago, he said, orchestra management “decided to use starvation as a weapon against defenseless orchestra musicians.”

The day the lock-out began, he noted the Minnesota Orchestra was regarded as “one of the greatest in the world.” Hair said a lock-out of this duration with musicians of this stature has no precedent.

He added: “the board of directors has shown no remorse whatsoever” for inflicting pain on the musicians.

Hair took the board of the Minnesota Orchestral Association to task for its actions in imposing the now year-long lock-out. “That board has brought shame upon itself,” he said, as well as shame upon the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota. “No longer can these board members refer to themselves as responsible stewards of a great orchestra.”

The board, he said, “has actually destroyed itself.” He noted the contrast between the board’s actions bringing “irreparable injury and harm” to orchestra members while upgrading Orchestra Hall.

Hair minced no words in condemning the actions of the board of the Minnesota Orchestral Association. “I call it economic terrorism by the economic bigshots who run this town.” Beginning with MOA board chair Jon R. Campbell, executive vice president and director of government and community relations, for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Hair went down the list of board members, noting the annual revenues of the companies they lead.

Board members come from the region’s most prominent corporations: Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Xcel Energy, and others.

“Does this sound like a board that doesn’t have any money?” Hair asked. “Or does it sound like a bunch of bullies?”

Board members, he noted, have felt no pain during the lock-out while musicians suffered.

“The people on this board represent the richest companies in the world,” Hair noted, adding that they can well afford to treat the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra with respect.

“I say, no more grovelling to these union-busters,” Hair concluded, calling for a boycott of their companies.

Following the speakers at the rally marking the one-year anniversary of the Minnesota Orchestra lock-out, the crowd of about 200-300 people marched around the block including Orchestra Hall. The crowd included locked-out musicians, community supporters, and labor supporters.

For updates on the lock-out, visit