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Sixteen Members of Chamber Symphony Quit in Contract Dispute

January 23, 1990

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Sixteen of the 24 tenured musicians of the Minneapolis Chamber Symphony have quit after abstaining from voting on a contract proposal.

The musicians issued a statement Monday saying the orchestra’s board had threatened to disband the orchestra if the musicians didn’t ratify the contract. They said the board also threatened to sue the union if they pursued in further negotiations their wish for significant input in artistic decisions.

Brad Eggen, union president, said the 18-month contract was ratified by a majority of the eight remaining tenured musicians who voted on it Sunday. ″We were committed to accepting the best possible offer from the management,″ he said.

Orchestra manager John Coughlin said he has no plans to cancel any concerts. The orchestra usually plays with 26 musicians.

″We’ve got a Rolodex full of people who want to audition for this orchestra,″ he said. ″We anticipate we’ll have musicians of as good - or better - caliber.″

Concerning the board’s threat to shut down the orchestra, Coughlin said, ″It wasn’t a threat against any specific musicians but a statement that we had to get moving on this thing. We have a concert in two weeks.″

The board’s threat to sue the union ″concerned whether the artistic committee would have hiring and firing power of the music director,″ he said.

The musicians who quit said the contract violates union bylaws, including provisions for donated services and broadcast recordings. They also objected to being barred from board meetings and the refusal of the board to divulge financial information.

Coughlin said the symphony agreed in the contract to pay union scale wages of $60.50 per two-hour concert. In addition, it will pay musicians $16 apiece more for out-of-town performances, up from $90 per two-hour concert.

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