The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra after the storm–Letter to Pioneer Press from Brad Eggen

The musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra reluctantly accepted a shorter season and a 19 percent wage cut, the contract their employer insisted was the only chance to restore them to the stage.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman described the move as adopting “major concessions,” and the musicians’ committee representative called this a contract needed “to assure that there will be a 2013-2014 season.” It is now time to digest the impact of management’s dissonant six-month lock-out of artists recognized by many as the finest chamber musicians in America.

Let there be no doubt about the severity of this uncommon attack on our Minnesota cultural heritage. This lock-out was a course that no orchestra board should aspire to follow. While SPCO management will remind you of the challenges faced a few years ago in Detroit and Philadelphia following the banking industry fiasco and our nation’s economic setback, great orchestras that we in Minnesota would compare ourselves to, including the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, have in the last year proven their financial resilience and uncompromising commitment to artistic quality with healthy contracts and modest salary Read More

Update from Journal of the House, appropriation for Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

One of the most FAQ’s we get submitted to us here on our site – how is the
lockout impacting public funding on the renovation plans for the
Ordway…and until now that has been a difficult question to respond to or
even try to quantify.  The cut and pasted document that was released and
shared with us today confirms that until a new contract is ratified and
signed by SPCO musicians – the public financing dollars are on hold for the
Ordway.  The stakes and incentive to finalize a new contract now has city
hall anxious too.  Stay tuned! of the House – 35th Day – Monday, April 15,

2013 – Top of Page 2376
(b) Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

This appropriation is added to the appropriation in Laws 2010, chapter 189, section 21, subdivision 16, paragraph (b), and is for the same purposes.  This appropriation is not available until the commissioner of management and budget determines that the labor contract dispute between the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the musicians has been settled.

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Saint Paul, Minnesota (April 20, 2013) –

The Musicians of the Saint Paul 
Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) said today they have voted to use a U.S. mail
 option to decide whether to ratify the Society’s latest proposal. This will 
enable further clarification of language in that proposal and would also
 provide the opportunity for all Musicians to vote.

Musicians ratified the American Federation of Musicians Integrated Media Agreement and its Addendum on April 20, 2013.  The Society agreed to join sixty-four other orchestras that have signed the international union’s Integrated Media Agreement.  The Society and the international union last week concluded negotiations for an Addendum to the media agreement that responded to certain local issues.

The Musicians of the SPCO have been locked out for more than 24 weeks. Their 
contract expired September 30, 2012. Management imposed the lockout on 
October 21, 2012 following three weeks where the Musicians continued to
”play and talk.”

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Negotiating Committee email to SPCO Musicians and the list of changes negotiated on April 21 and April 22

Dear Colleagues,

The Negotiations Committee is pleased to announce that thanks to the efforts of Brad Eggen and Mel Schwarzwald we now have complete documents.  Based on the improvements that have been made, and because the Negotiation Committee believes that it is important to have some remainder of a 12-13 SPCO season, we strongly recommend this proposal for ratification.

The following documents are attached.
1  Changes in Society’s Proposals Negotiated on 4-21 and 4-22-13 and
2  2013-4-22 Society’s Proposal
Return to Work Agreement and Mutual Release Pages 1-4

Collective Bargaining Agreement with Appendices A-D    Pages 7-70

Appendix E Special Retirement Package and Separation Agreement, Waiver and         Release relating to the Special Retirement Package    Pages  1-7

Exhibit C to Return to Work agreement and Mutual Release


Return to Work Schedule

Exhibit D

In order to resume performances, we approved several scheduling waivers, including rehearsals on days previously labeled as free days.
Please review the schedules carefully and contact Kelly if you need to.

The documents you have now received from the Committee are what you should vote on, as those received from any other source cannot be considered accurate or complete.

Ballots were mailed to you today, Tuesday April 23, 2013.

The instructions for completing mailed ballots were Read More

Musicians of the SPCO ratify agreement and call for new Orchestra leadership – Musicians remain deeply concerned about ensemble’s future

ST. PAUL, MN (April 29, 2013) – Today the Musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) ratified a 3-year agreement with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Society, and they called for the immediate commencement of a search for a new SPCO leader with proven orchestra management experience, and the vision and skill to substantially increase revenues and to maintain and enhance the SPCO’s status as one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras.

If revenues are not significantly increased in the next three years, the artistic quality of this Orchestra will not be preserved, according to Carole Mason Smith, Chair of the Musicians Negotiating Committee.

“We’re eager and excited to return to the stage and play music again for our loyal audiences,” Mason Smith said. “We’ve keenly missed performing for our community, but we remain deeply concerned about the artistic quality of the SPCO for future generations.”

Mason Smith said the Society’s proposal of April 18 was considerably improved in negotiations on Sunday, April 22 and Monday, April 23, and the Musicians Negotiating Committee, in the best interests of the SPCO, then “strongly” recommended ratification.

“It was necessary to play some concerts at the end of this season in order to assure that there will be a 2013-14 season,” Mason Smith said.  “If that season did not take place, the institution could have been seriously impaired.”

Mason Smith said that o Read More