Mayor Coleman lobbies SPCO musicians to take deal

Violinists Leslie Shank and Elsa Nilsson
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra violinists Leslie Shank, left, and Elsa Nilsson.
Photo courtesy Sarah Rubenstein

With a season cancellation deadline of 5 p.m. today looming at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is asking players to take another look at management's latest offer.

Musicians rejected the management offer made Friday because it does not address their concerns over compensation and electronic media rights. Instead players called on management to make a counter-offer to a proposal they made April 2. Both proposals arose from the intervention in the dispute by Mayor Chris Coleman

However, in a letter this morning, Coleman told musicians he believes the management offer resolves their outstanding issues.

He concludes: "None of your remaining concerns ... rise to the level of importance that would be worth jeopardizing the long-term viability of this orchestra. I urge all the musicians to work together to save this Saint Paul treasure."

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Management also responded that the musicians proposal adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of the contract which the orchestra can't afford.

SPCO Interim President Dobson West said cancelling the season would have huge implications for the orchestra, which is already behind schedule for next season.

"We would be in a position where we really can't sell tickets unless we are really sure we are going to have an orchestra, and we won't be able to raise money if we don't have a season and that would put us in a very bad position. And put us in a position where we would really seriously need to look at suspending operations," West said.

Musician negotiator Lynn Erickson said she's not sure what may happen today.

"I would hope that we could come to an agreement by the end of the day. We really want to be back on the stage playing concerts. But it is up to management. They need to address our concerns and respond to our proposal," Erickson said.