SPCO musicians rally to forestall possible lock out

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians rallied Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, outside the Ordway Center in an attempt to forestall a feared lock out by the orchestra's management.
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

Musicians from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra rallied outside the Ordway Center today in an attempt to forestall a feared lock out by management.

The SPCO musicians have been working without a contract since Oct. 1. Management wants to cut wages and reduce the size of the orchestra, but musicians say that will lead to players leaving, and destroy the SPCO.

The two sides are playing and talking, and temporarily following the old contract. Management said it cannot afford to do that for long.

Today's rally might be their last concert before a lock out, said Carole Mason Smith, negotiator for the musicians.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

"We are trying to be proactive and hopefully forestall that," she said.

The musicians hope the public will pressure management to put forward a less drastic proposal, Smith said.

No decisions have yet been made, interim SPCO president Dobson West said, but the SPCO management is waiting to hear a response to last week's offer of a four-year contract.

"We are having to assess our position each day as the facts unfold," West said. "But clearly we are in a position where we cannot afford to continue to pay them under the current arrangement for much longer, and I can't speculate as to what day that might be."