SPCO musicians vote to reject latest management offer

Saying they have fulfilled a promise made to Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra this evening voted to reject management’s latest contract offer.

The contract proposal, which came together after Mayor Coleman intervened in an attempt to save the rest of the orchestra’s season, broke SPCO management’s long stated requirement that it save $1.5 million a year from the last musicians contract. The offer includes a base annual salary of $60,000, up from the last offer, but still a cut of more than $15,000 from the previous contract. It also gave musicians a great deal of artistic control in the running of the SPCO, while protecting benefits, and offering a retirement incentive package to players aged 55 or over. Retirements are important because management wants to reduce the size of the orchestra from 34 to 28, but has also agreed that no current player will be fire to attain that reduction.

In a statement released this evening the musicians described the vote as non-binding and non-ratifying, and also said musicians believed that even if they had wanted to approve the proposal, they couldn’t.

The statement continues: “The proposal could not be submitted for a formal ratification vote because the entire contract is contingent upon the Society reaching agreement with the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) on electronic media issues, and the proposal requires the Local Union and the Musicians to agree to matters which must first be bargained with the AFM.”

This is known as the Integrated Media Agreement and it governs broadcast and Internet use of SPCO performances

Management has said it is willing to remove those references as requested.

The musicians say they hope to keep talks going with management, although no sessions are currently scheduled. They says they would like to move forward with the ideas in their counter proposal issued last Friday, although management rejected that almost immediately saying it did not include the issues agreed upon in discussions the two sides had with the mayor.

After hearing about the rejection vote a representative of the SPCO management described it as disappointing. She said the she would have no further comment until they have had a chance to study the musicians statement.