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Minnesota Orchestra calls in former Sen. George Mitchell on dispute

Aug. 31, 2013 at 11:59 AM

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Orchestra called in former I,S, Sen. George J. Mitchell, D-Maine., to negotiate a contract dispute between musicians and management.

The former Senate majority leader, who once brokered peace in Ireland and was an envoy for two years in the Middle East, is attempting to help the organization get back to work after its entire 2012-13 was canceled over proposed pay cuts, The New York Times reported Friday.

The orchestra's endowment suffered heavily in the recession and management proposed last year a one-third cut in the base pay of musicians, from $113,000 to $78,000.

The players rejected that plan after six months of talks, leaving them without work or pay for the entire season. Some have been collecting unemployment, some retired and others left to play for different orchestras, some permanently.

Music director Osmo Vanska is threatening to resign if the dispute isn't settled by Sept. 15 so the Minnesota Orchestra has time to practice for two crucial Carnegie Hall concerts in November, the Times said.

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