SPCO musicians lockout near certainby Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra say they won't vote on a contract offer until Oct. 31, meaning a lock out is almost certain.
The musicians have a 6 p.m. Sunday deadline set by management to accept its latest offer and avoid lock out. SPCO President Dobson West said without an agreement by Sunday there will be a lock out. No further negotiations between the two sides are scheduled.
Carole Mason Smith, who leads the musicians negotiating committee, said she knows they won't be voting until well after management's deadline.
"The lock out — the management is in charge of the lockout," she said. "If they decide to lock us out on that basis, that is their decision."
Management wants to cut musicians salaries, trim the size of the orchestra and offer buyouts to musicians aged 55 and older. It argues the cuts are needed because of looming deficits.
In a letter today, the musicians argue that SPCO tickets are too cheap and management could generate more money by increasing prices. They have requested information about the SPCO's income projections, and estimates of savings resulting from two unfilled player positions.
The musicians set a deadline of their own, 5 p.m. Thursday, for management's response.