Mn Orch musicians reject management proposal as SPCO bosses reject contract extension

Minnesota Orchestra musicians unanimously rejected a management contract proposal this evening and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra management rejected a musicians proposal for a contract extension. Both organizations contracts expire at midnight Sunday.

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Musicians negotiator Tim Zavadil meets the press shortly after the Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra rejected the management contract proposal (MPR photo/Euan Kerr)

In Minneapolis, after a three hour meeting Minnesota Orchestra musicians representatives said players are firm in their belief pay cuts of 30 to 50 percent in the proposal endanger the future of the orchestra.

The unanimous rejection of the offer was followed by another unanimous vote to play and talk, that is continue negotiating and performing beyond the deadline.

“It’s our intention to continue working under the terms of the current contract while we continue working this out, so that we can continue performing concerts for our audience,” said Tim Zavadil, the chair of the musicians negotiating committee.

Players have a meeting scheduled with management Sunday afternoon where Zavadil says they hope management will agree to keep negotiating.

“If not they have told us that they will lock us out and we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. But it’s our intention to negotiate in good faith and we want to play and talk,” he said.

Last week management delivered a letter saying it will lock out musicians if there is no agreement by midnight tomorrow. Following tonight’s vote management issued the following statement:

“We are disappointed the musicians have rejected the proposal. Our Committees are meeting tomorrow, and we hope the Union will share a realistic counterproposal then.”

Management has been frustrated by the way musicians have not formally responded till now to their proposal, five months after it was first laid on the table. Musicians counter they need more information about the orchestra’s finances to make an informed decision.

The opening concert of the Minnesota Orchestra season is October 18th

In St Paul SPCO management and musicians met all day Saturday to negotiate.

The musicians requested an extension of the current contract so players and management to work out their differences. However management rejected that saying there is still time to work out a deal before tonight’s midnight deadline.

The musicians also requested an independent outside arts consultant be brought in to analyze the management plan for the orchestra, and to examine the SPCO’s finances. This was also rejected by management. Musicians are upset by a management proposal to cut salaries and offer buy-outs to players over age 55, which musicians say will destroy the heart of the SPCO.

However SPCO management says he need to save $1.5 million a year, and musicians salaries are a major expense that needs to be trimmed.

Musicians said they are disappointed by management’s stance. They were scheduled to meet to discuss their next moves after this evening’s concert in St Paul. Negotiators will return to the table at 9 am Sunday. and have no end time set for their meeting.

Both sides in the SPCO negotiations say they want to play and talk. However management says it cannot afford the current contract in the long term and playing and talking can only go on for so long.

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