Monthly Archives: October 2012

Still here, actually

Sorry I haven’t been posting much the last couple of days. I’ve been battling a tinge of the flu while living with and taking care of someone who has full-out Martian Death Flu. Fun times, but not conducive to analytical thought, orchestral muckraking, or sleep. I had the thought today that I should probably sit down and start work on a Lockout Week 1 post…and then I realized it’s already been seven days since the lockout started, and that judging by the calendar I should probably already be drafting a Lockout Week 2 post. Oy vey. I have been keeping the Apocalypse Index updated, though, so you can always catch up on news there, even when I’m off valiantly fighting germs.

The news highlights from the last few days:

  • The Minnesota musicians have balls the size of the wrecking ones at Orchestra Hall, and they are renting out the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday October 18 to give a concert of their own. There hasn’t been a ton of details released yet about the show, besides the fact that Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
    is conducting. Apparently he’s excited to send an implicit obscene gesture to management with a kind of aplomb that only an 89-year-old can muster. I pray that there will be an encore (or at least one more concert) if the Shostakovich 5 programming rumors are true. Please, guys, please please please do not stamp on my soul by ending what might possibly be the last concert the-Minnesota-Orchestra-As-We-Know-It plays with Shostakovich 5. (And yet…we all know there is no piece of music that can come after Shostakovich 5, so I know my encore request will likely not be granted…sigh.) Anyway, assuming my tinge of flu doesn’t turn into the Martian death variety, I’m coming to the show, and you should, too. You should also donate to the musicians.
  • Also, you should donate to the musicians.
  • And it would probably be a good idea for you to donate to the musicians. Because I hear rumors that renting a massive auditorium in the downtown of a major metropolitan area is expensive.
  • So donate already!
  • After a couple days of not writing in here and gaining perspective, I’ve come to the decision that……Michael Henson and the board are still as incompetent as I thought they were a few days ago. Sorry, guys. You know what might convince me otherwise? You answering these hundred questions… Just sayin’…
  • A couple days ago there was an Almanac debate between the musicians’ side and management’s side, like the one between Dobson West and Carole Mason-Smith from a couple weeks ago (doesn’t it feel like years?). I haven’t watched it yet. But it’s there, and archived, and eventually I’ll get around to watching it, and discussing it…
  • The Star Tribune editorial was nice when it wasn’t reciting the same old talking points that we’ve rehashed and (hopefully) cast real, legitimate doubt on again and again here. Surprisingly, it ended with a call for an independent financial analysis.
  • Also, we also heard from a trifecta of conductors in the Star Tribune, telling management in no uncertain terms to get their crap together. I don’t think anyone at the top will actually listen to them (conductors? pshaw, what do they know about orchestras?), but hey. It’s still awfully meaningful to hear from them. A moment of silence for Osmo, who must be just in an agonizingly awkward place right now…
  • I installed this game that I got from Savers the other day. It’s called Trainz: Driver Edition. It sucks. Don’t buy it.
  • Flus also suck, in general.
  • The leaves came off the trees, and it’s unpleasantly cold out now. I don’t really feel like we got much of an autumn, but I’m not sure if this is because we didn’t get much of an autumn, or because I squandered it indoors blogging. I probably squandered it indoors blogging.
  • I’m tired. I need to try to sleep again.

So, anyway. Obviously not much substance to this post, but I just wanted to let you know I’m still alive and PO’d. In time I’ll get back to some better blogging. xx

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A little letter to Michael Henson

Dear Mr. Henson,

I have a simple four word message for you:

The game is up.

We can pretend that you don’t know who I am. We can pretend that you and Jon Campbell and Richard Davis never got the three massive manila envelopes with my hundred questions in them that I sent to Orchestra Hall last month. We can pretend that while you were looking up your Industry News, you came across a Huffington Post blog entry and thought it fit to link to, then somehow had a case of temporary blindness and missed mine.

But that would be pretending. Because everyone knows you know now. As of this afternoon, several bloggers’ opinions are featured very prominently on MPR’s website, and this one is among them. And you cite MPR in Industry News. (Actually, as of this writing, it was the most recent source you cited. Eek. Awkward.) Therefore, you know who I am and what I’ve been asking, and, with all due respect, Mr. Henson, you simply don’t have an excuse to ignore me – or any of us bloggers – anymore. If you choose to keep denying our existence and our questions, you choose to come across as the orchestral CEO version of Jerry Lundegaard.

To quote IMDB:

Jerry Lundegaard: I told ya. We haven’t had any vehicles go missing.
Marge Gunderson: Okay! But are ya sure? ‘Cause I mean, how do you know? Do you do a count, or what kind of a routine do you have here?
Jerry Lundegaard: [growing uncomfortable with this questioning] Ma’am, I answered your question!
Marge Gunderson: [long pause] I’m sorry, sir?
Jerry Lundegaard: Ma’am, I answered your question. I answered the darned… I’m cooperatin’ here!
Marge Gunderson: Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me, I’m just doing my job here.
Jerry Lundegaard: I’m… I’m not arguing here! I’m cooperating. So there’s no need to… we’re doin’ all we can here.
Marge Gunderson: Sir, could I talk to Mr. Gustafson?
[Jerry gives her a glassy-eyed look, knowing full well that Gustafson is dead]
Marge Gunderson: Mr. Lundegaard?

Look, I’ll even take out the filtered profanity in my “Hello, Minnesota Orchestra Management!” post to entice you further. How’s that? See? You’re all set. Despite whatever angry words I may have bandied about in the past few weeks, you and the clear, concise, honest answers you’ll no doubt bring to me will be oh-so-welcome in these virtual pages. I promise. As I’ve said so many times before, my first loyalty is not to the musicians, or to unions, or to an artistically excellent orchestra set to deplete its endowment in 2018. No; it’s to a strong, transparent, fiscally sustainable, artistically excellent symphony orchestra…which I hear is a goal rather similar to the one you have!

So answer us, and answer us quickly, or you risk MPR being only the first of many mainstream news sources to actually start reporting the discrepancies and obfuscations (and maybe even lies) you’ve let slip. And we’re only…*checks calendar*…five days into the lockout. If you make enemies with bloggers as thoroughly as you’ve appeared to make enemies with your musicians, it will be very very very hard to win us back over. Who knows what we might write, what we might speculate, what we might dig out of the Star Tribune archives, what Google might yield, what Facebook links we might make go viral, if you refuse to set the record straight? I don’t think it would be wise to choose to leave anything in your grand strategic plan to chance, would it? No. It wouldn’t be fitting for a man so clearly fond of chess…who loves to control every little detail of his orchestra that he possibly can…down to which auditioning musicians are extended offers of employment, and which are not.

So…talk to us! We’re here, and we’re waiting!

Yours sincerely,

Emily

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What Do the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO Mean To You?

I have a simple question for y’all.

What do the Minnesota Orchestra and the SPCO mean to you?

How have they inspired you, moved you, transported you? When did you first see them? When did you last see them? What makes you love them? What makes them special, and worth preserving in their current forms? Write down your thoughts and then post them in the comments section here (or if you want to communicate through email, leave a comment saying so, and I’ll get in touch with you privately as soon as possible). Write a few sentences, or write an essay. I’ll then re-post them as actual entries that you can then spread and share with your friends and family. I want to hear funny anecdotes, profound experiences, intellectual epiphanies: anything. Let’s take a minute to remember what we’re fighting for. I’ll post them all under the tag What Orchestras Mean. I think in the middle of the fight it’s vitally important to occasionally step back and remember all the amazing music we’ve been blessed with.

By the way, Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO managements are more than welcome to participate in this! :D Even if you don’t want to answer my questions, feel free to take part in this activity! (*shrug* Hey, it’s worth a shot…)

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Ten Obfuscations from Minnesota Orchestra Management’s Oct 1 Press Release

The Minnesota Orchestra lockout began at midnight on October 1. Early that morning, management canceled concerts through November 25. I read the official press release describing the reasoning behind the cancellations with some serious perplexion, as sentence after sentence after sentence contained obfuscations that I personally feel were very easily avoidable.

Come along and let’s take a closer look together.

The final proposal offers an average annual salary of $89,000, a guaranteed pension benefit that includes an annual contribution by the Orchestral Association of 7.63 percent of base salary, 10 weeks paid vacation and up to 26 weeks of paid sick leave.

Obfuscation #1: Professional orchestral musicians never have ten weeks of paid vacation a year. Period. “Vacation weeks” are merely “weeks the musicians do not perform with the orchestra.” During those “vacation” weeks, they are still practicing at home and studying for hours and hours a day. Musicians don’t often have vacation days, and they never ever have vacation weeks. If they go a single day without practicing, they will get twitchy, and will become highly unpleasant individuals to be around. Trust me. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

Obfuscation #2: “Sick leave” ought to be relabeled “injury leave.” Management knows that the average patron doesn’t understand what a physically demanding job being an orchestra musician is – or how often and how agonizingly orchestral musicians get hurt on the job – or that being forced by finances to play while injured can easily result in the end of careers that began in early childhood – or that insufficient rest can lead to musicians seeking wildly expensive medical care. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

Throughout the nearly six month negotiating process, the musicians have not offered a single counter-proposal.

Obfuscation #3: According to the musicians, they did not offer a single counter-proposal because they were waiting on important financial information before they felt they could make a fair and realistic offer. When that information was refused them, musicians offered at the eleventh hour to go through binding arbitration. This is an offer that is historic in its generosity on the part of the musicians. Look at the situations in Louisville and Detroit if you don’t believe me. The managements there would have killed to have the luxury of going into binding arbitration before their work stoppages even began. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

We have great respect for our musicians’ talents

Obfuscation #4. Look at obfuscations #1 and #2. If they really respected and understood their musicians’ talents, would they really obfuscate about their working conditions, and make them sound like lazy entitled children? Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

The Orchestral Association honored the musicians’ 2007 contract even though, in the midst of the recession, it placed unsustainable pressure on our endowment.

Obfuscation #5. I’ve already covered this before, so I’ll just link to my longer entry explaining it. But in short, Michael Henson, the Minnesota Orchestral Association, and the board were delighted with the way things were going financially at the orchestra all the way through 2010, more than halfway through that unsustainable contract. In fact, they were so happy with how things were going that in July 2010 they posted an article from Gig Magazine tossing around such phrases as “the Minnesota Orchestra stands out as a beacon institution among the bad [economic] news.” If you want to read it yourself, feel free to go to the Minnesota Orchestra website and do so, because it’s still there. They haven’t even bothered to take it down, although it directly contradicts what they say over here. (If they do ever take it down, let me know. I’ve saved a copy on my hard drive and can upload it if necessary.) (Edit: And, whaddayaknow, they finally got around to taking it down…in mid-October, when it was rather too late. Details on this here.) Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

(Also, management ignores the fact that musicians gave $4.2 million in concessions in 2009. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.)

We cannot resolve these issues without significant participation from our musicians nor can we turn responsibility for the Orchestra’s future over to a single arbitrator.

Obfuscation #6. If, after the books were opened, and the proposed changes were fair and warranted, chances are, an arbitrator would impose significant participation onto musicians, and the musicians were willing to take that very real risk. Salary is a secondary sticking point in this battle. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if we were discussing just salary and not contract changes, we might have settled this dispute many months ago. No, this battle is about a number of non-financial contract changes or nominally-financial contract changes that “give management more flexibility” but actually have the unfortunate consequence of allowing businessmen to make vital artistic decisions. A reader who has studied the contract more carefully than I have recently pointed out this little gem to me. It’s Section 23.3, (15), about Audition Committee. It’s on page 39 here.

Yes, Michael Henson would like to be the one with final authority to “extend an offer of employment to a potential Musician.” He does not want this ultimate power to go to the musicians. He does not want this ultimate power to go to the music director. No, he wants that power to go to…Michael Henson.

Do you understand? These are the kinds of radical changes the musicians are objecting to. Many of them have nothing to do with money, and everything to do with power and sustaining artistic excellence. These are the kinds of changes that are buried deep within the 50-page contract of thick and thorny legalese. These are the kinds of changes whose implications have yet to be fully understood by the public, because our press is overworked and there is not a single expert reporter working on this story full-time. Question: would anyone with an orchestra’s best interests at heart really want to have Michael Henson tasked with extending offers of employment to musicians, without having to be held accountable to anyone else? That has nothing to do with money. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

Since 2009, the full-time management and administrative staff have experienced a salary reduction, a wage freeze and more than a 40 percent reduction of their pension contributions from the Orchestral Association.

Obfuscation #7. According to public documents, Michael Henson makes $404,000 a year, which is up from his 2009 salary of $390,000. (According to this Star Tribune article, Salaries drop for nonprofit leaders, this is 1.5x the average for “nonprofits with budgets of $25 million to $50 million,” which is $243,000.) I know that others within the organization have sacrificed, and sacrificed greatly, but based on the available public evidence, I’m not convinced their leader did. Shouldn’t great leaders lead by example? Of course Henson’s salary alone wouldn’t fix the financial problem management says they have, but it would send a message about his character. It would send a message about his humanity, and respect, and shared sacrifice. As Andrew Young once observed on the Colbert Report, strikes aren’t about money; they’re about respect. Also, let’s be clear: I don’t think any of the musicians are scorning the people who wield relatively little power within the organization, who have suffered terribly throughout this whole debacle. According to one of my readers, at least one of these hardworking underpaid people was fired via email. If this is indeed true (and I have heard no one dispute it, or apologize for it), do you believe that high-level management really cares so much about the people below them? Or might they instead be seeing them as pawns in a grand seven-tier chess game (as nationally renowned arts consultant Drew McManus feared back in May)? No, this is a failure of leadership from the very top: from powerful multi-multi-millionaire board leaders Jon Campbell and Richard Davis, and Michael Henson. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

“We have been transparent with our musicians over the last three years about the substantial financial challenges facing the organization and the need for change in this new economic climate,” said MOA Board Negotiating Chair Richard Davis.

Obfuscation #8. Once again, I direct you to the article I wrote, wondering if the orchestra has indeed been transparent about the substantial financial challenges facing the organization. Because several articles from 2008-2010 would indicate they were not. They were certainly not transparent to the press, and they were certainly not transparent to their patrons and their donors. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

The musicians’ 2007 contract, which expired on October 1, included an increase of 19.2 percent to musician base salary over the life of the five-year contract.

Obfuscation #9. Financiers like Jon Campbell and Richard Davis may be interested to learn of the existence of a thing called “inflation.” Pesky thing, inflation: it throws a wrench into the simplest of calculations. The rate of inflation in 2007 was 4.1%, in 2008 was .1%, in 2009 was 2.7%, in 2010 was 1.5%, and in 2011 was 3.0%. 2012 numbers are obviously unavailable, but so far look to be about 2.3%. That’s an approximately 13.7% rate of inflation over the life of the contract. That’s a mere 5.5% raise above the rate of inflation over the course of five years, or in other words, a little over one percent a year. And during that time, the Minnesota Orchestra has solidified its reputation as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. I don’t know about you, but I personally believe that when you distinguish yourself professionally in an internationally cutthroat scene, you deserve every single penny of your 1% annual raise above the rate of inflation. Maybe management wasn’t able to afford the contract they signed in 2007, and maybe they can’t afford it now, but they can’t imply their musicians haven’t deserved that increase in pay. Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

We must be very respectful of our donors and ticket buyers; gifts and ticket sales alone cannot be expected to bridge our financial gap.

Obfuscation #10. Yes, management must be very respectful of their donors and ticket buyers, but they aren’t being very respectful of their donors and ticket buyers. Their donors and their ticket buyers have invested their hard-earned cash in a very specific product. In doing so, there was an implicit trust that the high quality of this very specific product would be sustained. Pretend someone sold you a ticket to see the Super Bowl and you dropped a lot of cash doing so ($14 million in the case of the state taxpayer; or $2.61 for every man, woman, and child in Minnesota, the vast majority of whom will never set foot in Orchestra Hall). Imagine buying your Super Bowl tickets, being escorted into the stadium…and then seeing two local high school football teams warming up on the field. Such a transaction would be the height of disrespect and obfuscation. I’m qualified to say so, because over the last five years, according to publicly available documents, I’ve spent a higher percentage of my income buying Minnesota Orchestra tickets than Richard Davis has donated to the Minnesota Orchestra. If the quality of the orchestra had not been so stellar, would they have gotten as many donations as they did, and sold as many tickets as they did? If they had been trying to sell a first-rate new lobby for a second-rate orchestra, would they have succeeded in their $100 million quest to “build for the future”? I don’t think they would have, and I don’t think management thinks so either, because the orchestra always prominently features that famous Alex Ross quote wherever they go: “the greatest orchestra in the world.” So at some subconscious level, they must understand that they need that kind of world-class quality to pull in that kind of money. And Michael Henson needs that world-class quality to get the money to pay his world-class salary.

For the final time:

Management seems to be banking on you not knowing this. They seem to be leaving out facts so that they can manipulate you. They seem to be afraid to take a couple extra sentences to explain the fuller, more nuanced truth. Don’t let yourself be manipulated.

So there are ten obfuscations right there. Some are obviously more blatant than others. I could dig in and explain more, but once you get to a certain point, further dissection and discussion become overkill. When you have a 765 word press release, and can find 10 obfuscations within those 765 words, that’s a ratio of obfuscations to words of 1:77, or a demonstrable obfuscation every few sentences. If I can’t trust the orchestra’s press releases, do you blame me for not trusting anything else they say? Especially when the organization is resisting independent financial analysis, refusing to go through binding arbitration, and contradicting what it says in public about its finances? And never taking the time to explain the discrepancies?

Musicians may well have to sacrifice, and sacrifice a lot, to keep this mighty organization afloat. But we can’t know for sure until the obfuscations stop.

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If you’re just joining us…

This open letter was originally written in October 2012 and last updated 27 August 2013.

***

Dearest readers,

I’ve been getting a lot more views since the Minnesota Orchestra lockout began, and I thought I should put up an entry introducing myself, since so many of you are new.

First off, welcome! My name is Emily; I live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (that’s ninety miles from the Twin Cities, for those of you who aren’t from these parts). I’m 24 and a freelance violinist, violist, writer, historian, and wannabe musicologist. More details on my professional background here. I’m disabled and trying to save up for college, so as of right now, the only education I have is a high school diploma and what I’ve been able to pick up on my own. I’ve blogged about my musical visits to Minneapolis for a couple of years now, but, although I’ve known since spring 2012 that these negotiations would be unusually contentious, I was determined to keep my nose out of any labor disputes for the simple reason they made me sad. But then someone at the Minnesota Orchestra very rudely and suddenly shut down the Inside the Classics blog with the lamest entry that site had ever seen, and I got angry, and I started to write. And write. And write some more. You mess with the Minnesota Orchestra? You mess with me. (By the way, the Minnesota Orchestra has since nuked the blog, as well as its archive…completely unnecessarily. Stay classy, Minnesota Orchestra. Stay classy.) Since the lockout began, this blog has gotten international attention, which is both flattering and, honestly, a bit terrifying. I have no experience analyzing complicated orchestral politics, much less analyzing complicated orchestral politics with people I’ve idolized for years watching me, so I’m relying on my dear readers to nudge me in the right direction if I start veering off-course. (And they have, too, which I’m very grateful for. Thank you, readers!)

I’ve been going to Minnesota Orchestra and SPCO concerts since I was thirteen. Continue reading

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Comparisons of Minnesota Orchestra Management’s Two Proposed Contracts

The other night while waiting for lockout news, I decided to prove my nerdiness by comparing the two contracts the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) has offered its musicians. They’re on their website, and you can find the first one here (Contract A) and the second one (the “final offer”) here (Contract B). So I opened up two Adobe Reader windows and went line by line through both fifty-odd-page documents, determined to find where management had agreed to compromise, and by how much. I may have missed some small changes here and there; if I did, alert me, and I’ll add them to this entry. But I’m pretty confident I caught the majority of them. This is actually the first orchestral contract I’ve read in full, and so I’m obviously not qualified to discuss the implications of all the changes, but when I did have something to say, or questions to ask, I wrote a little paragraph underneath the screen shots. I’d appreciate if someone fluent in legalese could discuss the implications of the changes.

Change #1

So they added in the dates. Nice.

Change #2

Change number two…also consists of adding in dates.

Change #3

So it looks like in Contract A, musicians are to work no fewer than 38 weeks and no more than 42 weeks. Contract B alters that to just plain old “shall be expected to” work 42 weeks.

Change #4

Discussions of community outreach. It goes from “in any season” to “in any 42 week season.” Management also adds in an (s) after rehearsal.

Change #5

Here are some free days built into Contract B that were not in Contract A.

Change #6

A change in the number of musicians allowed in split orchestra situations…

Change #7

This is in Contract B; it is not in Contract A…

Change #8

This looks like it has to do with vacation time re: the switch to a 42-week year, and as such, I think it’s more of a clarification than a compromise…

Change #9

Equations like this bring back memories of crying in my eighth-grade algebra class, so I’ll leave analysis of this to more qualified individuals…

Change #10

Changes in Internet broadcasting provisions…

Change #11

Glad that Contract A’s (e) was changed. That strikes me as being a huge potential loophole: “nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to limit the Association’s ability to promote the orchestra through current and evolving social networking/social media forums.” Does that mean that the MOA could post videos or concert recordings onto, say, Facebook or Myspace (or whatever social media site explodes in the next five years) without paying its musicians, as long as it was done for “advertising purposes”? I wouldn’t be averse to videos or concert recordings being available online, but the musicians would need to be compensated in some way for that. However, I know the laws dictating digital media are complicated and in flux, so I may well have interpreted that wrong. I’ll update this paragraph later if someone else can clarify. (It does seem to be a moot point now in this particular situation, though.)

Change #12

Here it appears that individual musicians won the ability to receive higher payments for recording sessions. That only seems logical…

Change #13

This sentence is only in Contract B, and strikes me as being one of the most interesting changes of all. On the Minnesota Orchestra Musicians website, I’m counting 15 first violins (with two on leave of absence), 9 second violins, 10 violas (with one on leave of absence), 10 cellos (with two on medical leave), 6 bass players, 4 flutes, 3 oboe, 4 clarinet, 4 bassoon, 5 horn, 4 trumpet, 2 trombone, 1 tuba, 2 timpani, 3 percussion, 1 harp, and 3 librarians (with one as a substitute). That adds up to 86, with two of those players now in the Oregon Symphony, one in the San Francisco Symphony, and none of the three very likely to return. And then the one substitute librarian. What happens when the number dips below 84, as it looks guaranteed to do even if nobody leaves? (And I can guarantee you, people will leave…) Will management face any consequences for failing to hire new players, or be forced to agree to an accelerated schedule of auditions to fill vacancies to keep the orchestra at the magical 84 number? Or is this a largely symbolic provision with no teeth to enforce it?

Change #14

And…another change having to do with dates.

So in a 52-page contract, we have approximately 14 fleeting changes (although your exact number will vary depending on if you feel the changes should be counted per sentence, per paragraph, per line, per section, etc). Three of those changes have to do with dates. So really there are only about 11 changes. Compare that to the 250+ changes the musicians say management has made from the old contract. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that management’s Final Offer is probably about 95% of what they originally wanted, change-wise.

Have you guys ever watched Pawn Stars? If we translated the negotiation of the changes within this contract into a Pawn Stars segment, it would go something like this:

Rick: Wow, here’s a valuable car I really, really, really want to buy. It’s amazing. Wow. This is world-class stuff right here. Yes, I’m very interested. What do you want for it?

Client: I was thinking $10,000.

Rick: WHAT? Um, no. No, no, no, NO, NO, NO. Absolutely positively no way. How about $100?

Client: Sorry, what?

Rick: $100. Sorry man, times are tough.

Client: Can you, um, do any better than that?

Rick (five months later): Here is my absolute final offer.

*suspenseful music plays*

Rick: It’s totally respectful and realistic.

*more suspenseful music*

Rick: I will give you 5% of what you want. So $500.

Client: (backs away slowly)

Rick: What is your problem? I’m so disappointed you aren’t working with me! I’m being reasonable and generous and incredibly respectful! Why are you driving away in your awesome car that I said I totally wanted??? Why doesn’t anyone want to negotiate with me??? Fine. Whatever. I’ll just close the shop till Thanksgiving while continuing to pay myself $1100 a day. See if I care. Geez.

This would be the worst TV show ever. (And I’m including Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in that appraisal.)

Well, regardless of the exact percentage of changes, here’s the inevitable question:

If you have only 11 relatively minor changes to share, why would you post two separate 50-page PDF documents? Or, phrased another way, why wouldn’t you post a short errata to make your positions as clear as possible?

It couldn’t possibly be to confuse Joe Patron, who is most likely elderly, and probably doesn’t know how to work Adobe Reader, or tile the windows on his computer so he can read both documents at once, and probably doesn’t have good enough eyesight or the physical ability to sit and spend a couple hours skipping back and forth between the two contracts for fifty pages. It couldn’t possibly be to give Joe Patron the impression that management is engaging in good-faith dialogue and agreeing to lots of substantial changes, when really there are only a handful of them. It couldn’t possibly be to overwhelm a local news media that’s already overwhelmed with negotiation news and simply doesn’t have the time or resources to devote to comparing the two contracts.

Because management would never ever do that to its devoted public, right? The very same public who makes Michael Henson’s $404,000 annual salary possible, right? Nobody could possibly do that in good conscience…could they?

So what’s the alternate explanation?

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Amusing search queries that people have used to find this blog

I’ll have some stuff to say later tonight or tomorrow morning, but I just wanted to let y’all know that business is booming here at SOTL with tons of Minnesota Orchestra patrons wanting to know what exactly the f*** happened today.

To provide a little lighthearted reading in the midst of the apocalypse, here’s a list of amusing terms that readers have used to find this site. I’ll feature the best ones every day, so if you want to send a coded anonymous message to management, feel free! Just use a search term that will get you to this site, click on a link, and voila (or should I say, viola?). If it’s amusing enough it will be posted here. Have fun!

  • mn orchestra fiasco
  • minnesota orchestra michael henson compensation
  • if i wanted to manage orchestra hall
  • how much does minnesota orchestra management make
  • fire michael henson
  • minnesota orchestra tax dollars
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  • michael henson financial contributions
  • is minnesota orchestra management lying
  • mn orchestra fiasco 2012
  • where does the mone come from for the minnesota orchestra
  • tracking number for wells fargo on receipt
  • how long has richard davis been on the minnesota orchestra board of directos
  • why u no answer
  • are orchestra sales down because of iphone app
  • michael henson ceo pay watch
  • violin crying
  • minnesota orchestra old contract pdf
  • pastlife intertwined heart ring story of us
  • social media and orchestra event pr failures
  • “michael henson” orchestra contributions republican
  • the best of michael henson
  • henson bournemouth orchestra bad
  • dobby
  • dobby character analysis

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