With season cancellation looming SPCO management makes new offer

After another intervention by St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra management offered a new proposal late Friday afternoon in a bid to prevent the cancellation of the rest of the SPCO season.

Coleman relayed the news to the musicians in a letter. He encouraged the musicians to consider the offer which covers five areas of concern: compensation for subs and replacements players, protection from retaliation after the end of the lock-out, use of rehearsal recordings, changes in the artistic review process to protect musicians and finally the so-called Integrated Media Agreement.

The document is not long, but it sets up a series of dates and decisions which management says have to be completed to save the rest of the SPCO season.

Lets go through it.

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First management had set a deadline of 5 PM Monday for a deal to prevent the cancellation of the rest of the SPCO season.

Now it's prepared to push that deadline back a week providing musician negotiators agree by 5 PM Monday to put the new proposal to the musicians for a vote along with a recommendation to approve. There will still be concert cancellations for logistical reasons, but only through May 5th

This latest proposal is management's attempt to deal with the thorny issue of the Integrated Media Agreement, or IMA, which governs the use of SPCO material for broadcast and on the Internet. The musicians argue these matters can only be negotiated by the national American Federation of Musicians. In fact the AFM can order the local union not to vote on a proposal if it contains elements which the national union believes are covered by the IMA.

This seems to be a major log-jam preventing an agreement. Management says it has removed all material regarding electronic media covered by the IMA from their local proposal. However musicians said just two days ago management's last proposal was still contingent on a national agreement, and the two could not be linked.

Now management has said it will separate the national from the local by finalizing the AFM deal first, then completing the local deal.

Musician negotiator Carole Mason Smith had only just received the Mayor's letter when contacted by MPR this afternoon. She said the musicians want to take a vote, but need to carefully consider and understand the substance of the new offer. She predicted it would be a busy weekend.

SPCO Interim President Dobson West is also expecting a busy weekend, but neither would predict what is likely to happen by 5 PM Monday.