In an offer apparently precipitated by the intervention of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, SPCO management today proposed a new play and talk offer to its locked out musicians.
In the offer detailed on the SPCO website Interim President Dobson West says conversations with the Mayor and his staff have convinced management it must take a larger financial risk to get the orchestra playing again.
In an interview with MPR West said the Mayor wanted to avoid the cancellation of the entire SPCO season.
"For the good of the SPCO and the City of St Paul he decided he should become involved in the negotiations," West said. "He urged us to make substantial concessions which we did. And he urged the musicians to take our new proposal to their members for a vote, which they have agreed to do, and so we are hopefully heading towards being able to bring the music back."
Until now West has insisted that the SPCO meeds to save $1.5 million a year from the cost of the previous musicians contract. West says Coleman convinced management negotiators it needed to take a larger financial risk to get the dispute resolved.
In the proposal management is offering a higher basic pay level of $60,000 (though still much lower than the previous contract) as well as a number of other concessions requested by musicians over artistic control, and guarantees no current musicians will lose their jobs as the SPCO shrinks from 34 to 28 players. The offer includes a retirement package for musicians aged 55 and older which both sides believe could result in the smaller orchestra while avoiding layoffs.
Musicians began meeting at 9 am to discuss the offer, and will issue a statement afterwards.
If the Mayor thinks that the SPCO is "the world's best chamber orchestra", which is what his spokesperson said in another recent article, then why is Mayor Coleman insisting that its size be decreased substantially?? Did he say the same thing to the MN Wild?
A 28-member orchestra is NOT the SPCO we all know and love. I hope that that orchestra is not gone forever, but Mayor Coleman may hasten that loss.