SPCO management announces national deal: sets Monday deadline for local vote

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UPDATED 5.45 PM with musician reaction

Management of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra announced today it has reached an agreement on electronic media rights with the American Federation of Musicians.

A tentative local contract agreement with the locked out musicians was dependant on reaching a deal with the AFM. Management says it will end the lockout on Tuesday if SPCO musicians to accept the local deal by 5 PM Monday.

Interim SPCO President Dobson West says the tight timeline is governed by the desire to preserve the remnants of the SPCO season

“It’s important for us in order to get as many concerts in as possible that we meet that deadline,” he said. “If we meet that deadline we will not need to cancel any additional concerts so that we will be able to start up concerts on the 9th of May.”

The musicians however aren’t happy about the deadline. Negotiating Committee Co-chair Carole Mason Smith said they only learned about it yesterday. Union regulations require players to be physically present for a ratification vote, and they need a quorum of 20 musicians. Many have been playing in other cities, and even countries, during the dispute, and it is unclear if they will be able to gather to vote in time to meet the deadline.

However West says he is hopeful.

“We have been told that there is a possibility that they could vote this weekend and ratify the contract so that is what we are pushing for and that is what we hope they will do.”

Carole Mason Smith says another irritation is the musicians request for sheet music to begin rehearsing for a return to the stage have been denied until there is a deal in place.

(Image: MPR file photo)

  • Anja

    So Mr. West prefers to “preserve the remnants of the SPCO season” rather than actually preserve a very fine orchestra.

    Minnesotans, there it is. Dobson West and his management and board prefer to save an already gone season rather than preserve the Orchestra. West and company are gutting our Orchestra. What are we going to do about this!?

    I say, “Fire them!”

    Fresh start the board and the management. They have failed in their duties. It is time to start anew.

  • Sarah

    Funny how it wasn’t a priority to “get as many concerts in as possible” a few months ago. Also interesting how the concerts with Thomas Zehetmair – he of the passionate letters about the importance of the orchestra – were cancelled. And I wonder how many hours – or minutes – the musicians had the actual paper document before this story was given to the press by management.

  • mark yannie

    Ponder this:

    The SPCO must be a lucrative enough business venture for the management to go to such great lengths to preserve –(at a lower rate and pursuit of an national anti union recording provision).

    Certainly there could be better business ventures that West and team could pursue…..

    They are in “business”

    –let nothing else cloud the issue– and have found an opportunity for more profit and cheaper labor.