MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Orchestra musicians unanimously rejected a management contract proposal on Saturday, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's management rejected a musicians' proposal for a contract extension.
Both organizations' contracts will expire at midnight Sunday.
After a three-hour meeting in Minneapolis, musicians' representatives said players were firm in their belief that pay cuts in the proposal are untenable. Orchestra management wants to reduce the average pay for players from $135,000 a year to $89,000, a reduction of 30 to 50 percent. The musicians say the cuts endanger the orchestra's future as talented players would seek higher paying jobs elsewhere.
The offer has been on the table for more than five months as musicians requested more information about the organization's finances.
Orchestra management said it would lock out the musicians if no deal was in place by the contract deadline.
But musician negotiator Tim Zavadil says the musicians voted to continue negotiating and performing beyond the deadline.
"It's our intention to continue working under the terms of the current contract while we continue working this out," Zavadil said, "so that we can continue performing concerts for our audience."
The Minnesota Orchestra's season is due to begin on Oct. 18.
The two sides will meet on Sunday afternoon, and management says it hopes to hear a realistic counterproposal from musicians. In St. Paul, SPCO musicians had requested an extension of the current contract so players and management can work out their differences.
Orchestra management rejected an extension, saying there was still time to work out a deal before Sunday's deadline.
Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio