Effective immediately, the new agreement sets down twice-yearly raises that bring the musicians' current annual salary of about $95,000 ($1,827 weekly) to just over $120,000 ($2,308) in 2012. Also included is an enhanced long term-disability benefit.
The musicians agreed to cover some health care insurance expenses on their own if increases in premiums exceed ten percent per annum in the second through fifth years of the contract.
The previous agreement, which expired September 30, fixed the players' salaries during the first season to alleviate a succession of deficits, and called for increases thereafter to the $1,827-per-week rate. The latest agreement makes their earnings closer to those at top-tier orchestras. "We think this is a great first step to closing the gap," cellist Maria Peck told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
"We are pleased that the contract reflects the orchestra's standing as one of the best in the country," said flutist Wendy Williams, chairperson of the Minnesota Orchestra Members Committee.
The board has also given a directive to balance the budget by December, reports the Tribune.
"We have a three-year plan to break even, and we're confident we're going to achieve that," said Paul Grangaard, orchestra board chairman.