Musicians of SPCO Fear Lockout will continue for weeks due to Management’s Reluctance to compromise
Saint Paul, Minnesota ( January 30, 2013 ) – The Musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) said today that they fear the 101-day old lockout will likely drag on for weeks because of Management’s unwillingness to compromise, its continued refusal to change its draconian salary offers and its reluctance to even respond to the Musicians’ concessionary proposals.
In an attempt to resolve the dispute, Carole Mason Smith, a bassoonist with the SPCO for more than 30 years and co-chair of the Negotiating Committee, said the Musicians have agreed to numerous concessions, including cutting their salaries and reducing the number of musicians (from 34 to 28).
Mason Smith said the Musicians’ latest proposal, presented to Management on January 22, 2013, would save the SPCO $3.6 million through 2016. In addition, Management will have saved over $1 million if the lockout ends by February 10, 2013. Despite the dramatic savings, Management has yet to respond to the offer.
“The refusal of Management to compromise on any major economic issues is what has prevented the end of the lockout and our return to performing great music for our audiences,” said Mason Smith who added that Management has barely changed the financial terms of its offer since September 7, 2012.
In their latest proposal, Mason Smith said the Musicians have agreed to reduce their annual salary 20% for the 2012-2013 season, 17% for the 2013-2014 season and 15% for the 2015-2016 season.
In addition to guaranteed salaries, Management’s insistence on a two-tiered salary system is another point of contention. Under Management’s plan, all new musicians would be paid an annual salary of $50,000 with no guaranteed overscale. Mason Smith said this two-tiered system, which no other major American orchestra uses, would make it impossible to attract musicians of the caliber capable of preserving the performance level of the SPCO.
Finally, the Musicians’ latest proposal includes the establishment of a special committee of musicians and management representatives who would together determine the instrumentation of the orchestra. Such a system would ensure that no musician was involuntarily terminated except for just cause or through a formal review process.
Mason Smith said Musicians are “extremely troubled” by Management’s lack of response to their latest offer and are requesting that Management responds no later than Friday, February 1, 2013. “We want to resolve our remaining issues as soon as possible and return to playing music for this community,” she said.