UPDATE February 23, 2013: Still unsettled…. I sent this letter to the 28 members of the Minnesota Orchestra Association Executive Committee last week. here. Sometime today I’ll again watch the story of Pearl Harbor. [Here’s this years Pearl Harbor reflection]
I also have interest in current affairs, and the recent lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra is an important issue to me, as we are subscribers, locked out like the orchestra from, perhaps, this entire year of concerts. Thus the following post:
Today is the annual meeting of the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra (MO). I didn’t know that till a newspaper column in yesterdays Minneapolis Star Tribune. I had decided, some weeks ago, that December 7 would be an appropriate date to write about the very public catastrophe facing this world class orchestra whose home is downtown Minneapolis MN.
As I write, there are major issues between musicians and management at the Orchestra. The solution for the moment is to lock out the musicians and those of us who bought tickets to the concerts.
For those with little or no interest in or knowledge of the issue, some time ago the Orchestra Board made at least two major decisions: to embark on a major renovation of Orchestra Hall; and to lock-out the Musicians of the Orchestra in a contract dispute, thus almost guaranteeing that the season will ultimately be cancelled (half has already bit the dust.). We subscribers have thus been “locked out” as well.
The Japanese preemptive strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the lockout of Minnesota Orchestra musicians came quickly to mind for me when this conflict affected we ticket-holders. In both cases there was a ‘win’, albeit short-term, for Japan, and for the MO management, but in the long-term it is a rather pyrrhic victory.
(click on all photos to enlarge)
There have been numerous interesting commentaries not necessarily taking one side or another: In the New Yorker was this contribution; last Sunday in the STrib carried this column. There have been many more commentaries. This has become national news.
I happen to have a particular interest in this lockout, since for a lot of years we’ve been a subscriber for six concerts a year, and perhaps have attended two or three more each season. We sit in the fourth row, behind the maestro. Perhaps there are better seats in the house, but we’ve come to like being upfront, and over time you get to know the nature of your neighbors, and they, you. We seem to be fairly typical among our fellow concert-attendees.
All of we customers have become the victims of this conflict. The list of victims is expanding, daily.
I also spent an entire career in and around collective bargaining, so I know the trade, including the foolhardiness of inserting oneself in the middle of a dispute where the real ‘facts’ (issues) may not be visible. All I can say for certain is that at some point there will be a settlement, and the sooner the better that will be for both parties.
As in war, the more protracted and bitter the conflict, the greater the residual damage will be.
In such disputes there are always diverse points of view, strongly felt. In this one, there seems to be value in ranking several top priorities, which I present in alphabetical order below:
Concern for the customers (the people who actually attend the concerts, whether one or a thousand)
New Lobby construction
Power and Control: authority issues
Quality Musicians and others who work for MO
Savings Account (the endowment fund)
Rank these from one to five (most to least important) and you might have a personal idea of where you stand.
Of course, there can be more factors, but these give an idea. As for me, the November 26 Star Tribune printed a letter from myself on the issue, in which I said, in part: “… we buy tickets to hear the Minnesota Orchestra….”
As a result of this letter, I received a number of very interesting phone calls and e-mails, all positive, all expressing similar concerns.
November 24, I sent a U.S. mail stamped letter to all of the 81 listed members of the Minnesota Orchestra Board. It is here: MN Orchestra Nov 24 Ltr001 (There are actually 25 members on the Board, but the Orchestra website lists honorary, emeritus and other Directors as well. They are listed at the end of this post.)
I asked each for “individual acknowledgement of this letter.” So far, no acknowledgements of any kind have been received from any Board member. Perhaps it’s a little too early.
Meanwhile, the hurt goes on as the cement shoes worn by the respective sides seem to be hardening. Maybe there will be a breakthrough, maybe not.
I went by Orchestra Hall Wednesday to take some photos (above, and following at the Hilton across the street), and together the photos evoke for me a very sad situation for a great orchestra in our great community.
I ask good faith bargaining, all cards on the table, and an honorable settlement.
Since it appears that this is essentially a Business driven conflict, I offer a piece of advice to the people who will have to ultimately settle the matter from my good friend, former Governor and successful businessman, corporate owner and philanthropist Elmer L. Andersen, in his memoir “A Man’s Reach” (2000), edited by Lori Sturdevant. At pages 96-101 Mr. Andersen summarizes his four corporate priorities, as follows:
1. “Our highest priority…should be service to the customer.”
2. “The company should exist deliberately for the benefit of the people associated in it.”
3. “[Our] third priority was to make money.”
4. “Our philosophy did not leave out service to the larger community…The quality of life in a company’s hometown is important to that business’s welfare and future….”
Of course, Mr. Andersen was talking about internal priorities within his own company, but still, it is quite good advice, I’d say.
Directly related post: here.
The Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Union website is here.
The Minnesota Orchestra Board as of December 6, 2012:
* – denotes membership on Executive Committee
Jon R. Campbell*, Chair, Wells-Fargo Bank
Richard K. Davis*, Immediate Past Chair, U.S. Bancorp
Michael Henson*, President and CEO
Nancy E. Lindahl*, Secretary, Deephaven MN
Steven Kennedy*, Treasurer, Faegre Baker Daniels
Nicky B. Carpenter*, Wayzata MN
Kathy Cunningham*, Mendota Heights MN
Luella G. Goldberg*, Minneapolis
Douglas Leatherdale*, The St. Paul Companies
Ronald E. Lund*, Eden Prairie, MN
Betty Myers, St. Paul MN
Marilyn C. Nelson, Carlson, Minneapolis MN
Dale R. Olseth, SurModics, Eden Prairie MN
Rosalyn Pflaum, Wayzata MN
Margaret D. Ankeny, Wayzata MN
Andrew Czajkowski, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, St. Paul
Dolly J. Fiterman, Minneapolis
Beverly Grossman, Minneapolis
Karen H. Hubbard, Lakeland, MN
Hella Meaars Hueg, St. Paul MN
Joan A. Mondale, Minneapolis MN
Susan Platou, Wayzata MN
Emily Backstrom, General Mills, Minneapolis
Karen Baker*, Orono MN
Michael D. Belzer, Crescendo Project Board, Minneapolis
David L. Boehnen, St. Paul MN
Patrick E. Bowe*, Cargill, Wayzata MN
Margaret A. Bracken, Minneapolis
Barbara E. Burwell, Wayzata MN
Mari Carlson, Mt. Oliver Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
Jan M. Conlin, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, Minneapolis
Ken Cutler, Dorsey & Whitney, Edina
Jame Damian, Minneapolis
Jonathan F. Eisele*, Deloitte Service LP, Minneapolis
Jack W.. Eugster*, Excelsior MN
D. Cameron Findlay Medtronic, Minneapolis
Ben Fowke*, Xcel Energy, Minneapolis
Franck L. Gougeon, AGA Medical Corporation, Plymouth MN
Paul D. Grangaard, Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation, Minneapolis
Jane P. Gregorson*, Minneapolis
Susan Hagstrum, Minneapolis
Jayne C. Hilde*, Satellite Shelters, Minneapolis
Karen L. Himle, HMN Financial, Minneapolis
Shadra J. Hogan, Minnetonka MN
Mary L. Holmes, Wayzata MN
Jay V. Ihlenfeld, St. Paul MN
Philip Isaacson, Nonin Medical, Plymouth MN
Nancy L. Jamieson, WAMSO, Bloomington
Lloyd G. Kepple, Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly, Minneapolis
Michal Klingensmith, Star Tribune Media, Minneapolis
Mary Ash Lazarus, Vestiges Inc, Minneapolis
Allen U. Lenzmeier, Best Buy, Minneapolis
Warren E. Mack, Fredrikson& Byron, Minneapolis MN
Harvey B. Mackay, Mackay Envelope Company, Minneapolis
James C. Melville*, Kaplan, Strangis and Kaplan, Minneapolis
Eric Mercer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Minneapolis
Anne W. Miller, Edina MN
Hugh Miller, RTP, Winona MN
Anita M. Pampusch, Bush Foundation, St. Paul
Eric H. Paulson, Excelsior, MN
Teri E. Popp*, Wayzata MN
Chris Policinski, Land O’Lakes, St. Paul
Gregory J Pulles*, Minneapolis
Jady Ranheim, Young People’s Symphony Concert Assoc
Jon W. Salveson*, Piper Jaffray & Co, Minneapolis
Jo Ellen Saylor*, Edina
Sally Smith, Buffalo Wild Wings, Minneapolis
Gordon M. Sprenger*, Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Chanhassen
Sara Sternberger* WAMSO, Eagan MN
Mary S. Sumner, RBC Wealth Management, Minneapolis
Georgia Thompson, Minnetonka MN
Maxine Houghton Wallin, Edina
John Whaley, Norwest Equity Partners, Minneapolis
David S. Wichmann*, UnitedHealth Group, Minnetonka
John Wilgers, Ernst & Young, Minneapolis
Theresa Wise, Delta Air Lines, Eagan MN
Paul R. Zeller, Imation, Oakdale
Chris Coleman, Mayor, St. Paul MN
Barbara A. Johnson, President, Minneapolis City Council
Eric W. Kaler, President, University of Minnesota
R.T. Rybak, Mayor, Minneapolis MN.