Both sides in SPCO dispute say the other one doesn’t understand

Both management and musicians in the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra labor dispute say the other side has not fully understood their latest proposals.

SPCO management set a deadline of 5 pm Monday for a deal to prevent cancellation of the rest of the season. However musicians rejected management’s latest proposal saying it still includes sections about broadcast and Internet use of SPCO material which they say has to be handled by the national union, the American Federation of Musicians.

Management says it has removed the offending material, but musicians say it is still there. In an e-mail to SPCO board members released to the media this afternoon the musicians negotiating committee indicated there has been a lot of agreement, but not nearly enough.

“At this point this is NOT about the money. We have accepted the economic terms agreed to with the Mayor, and the remaining money differences are very insignificant. In particular, we have accepted the $60,000 salary for three years as well as a 20% reduction in over scale offered in Management’s March 29th proposal. We have agreed to Management’s reduction of full-time positions in the orchestra from 34 to 28 as a cost savings measure. Our current proposal, plus the lockout will have saved the Society over $5 Million by the end of the contract on June 30, 2016.”

However management has rejected a musicians counterproposal saying it adds significant costs which the orchestra can’t afford.

Management also argued musicians have misunderstood its offer. Interim President Dobson West was moved to make an unusual offer for a labor negotiation, which he outlines in an e-mail Wednesday, which musicians also released: It is very clear that there are significant misunderstandings about what is contained in our proposal. Since we are at such a critical time, we believe it is very important to clear up those misunderstandings. As a result, we are proposing a meeting, not to negotiate, but to make sure we all understand what is and is not in our proposal. We would not intend to discuss our proposal to the AFM, only our proposal to you. We would invite all of you as well as all Board members, Musicians and senior management.

But the musicians quickly said no, arguing it’s management which has misunderstood their offer, which they say gives them job security, and management the savings it needs.

Both sides believe a settlement is possible by the 5pm Monday deadline, although it will be tight, as there needs to be an agreement with the American Federation of Musicians on the electronic media issue, as well as a local agreement with the musicians.