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The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Society has falsely told the public that its proposal requires only a 15% reduction in the musicians’ guaranteed compensation.

SPCO musicians are paid a minimum guaranteed salary, and also receive a separate sum for their leadership roles and special instrumental skills. Both sums are guaranteed under the existing Union contract.

SPCO musicians are currently being paid a minimum guaranteed base salary of $78,223. The management proposal attempts to reduce this amount to $50,000. That reduction of $28,223 is a 36% cut in the minimum annual salary.

The second source of income, to address each musician’s special skills and talents, is called “overscale.” Although the individual contracts for “overscale” are confidential, SPCO figures reveal that the average overscale per musician is $15,058. Management’s proposal reduces the guaranteed income for overscale to $12,500, a 16% reduction from the average overscale in the prior orchestra season, and management’s proposal provides no guarantee of overscale for new hires.

In summary, the average guaranteed pay for an SPCO musicians is currently $93,280, and management’s last proposal intends to cut this to $62,500, a total reduction of $30,780 which amounts to a 33% overall reduction. The constant PR statement by management that its artistic and financial proposal is only a 15% reduction is a shell game calculation falsely minimizing the devastating impact of its proposal. Management includes both forms of income in its proposal but only mentions one form of income in describing the current pay, thereby understating current income by $15,055 to manufacture an illusion of a mere 15% cut. The recent amended proposal by management offers a $2,000 increase in the fourth year, which is nowhere near the cost of living during that time period, and this amount would be eaten up by increases in medical insurance under the same management proposal.

Management’s proposal also targets six jobs for elimination, an 18% reduction, with management demanding the power to eliminate more jobs and further reduce the orchestra size in the future.

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