Musicians Publish Facts about SPCO Negotiations

The Musicians of The SPCO provided this fact sheet to audience members at the December 2 concert:




 1.  The Musicians of the SPCO have offered to lower the level of salary that they would be willing to accept several times.

2.  The Musicians offered to lower their salary from the level of the current agreement in order to continue playing and talking.  When Management said that it would still be too expensive, the Musicians asked what salary level would be acceptable to the Management in order to continue playing and talking.  The Management stated they were not even interested, and instead locked the Musicians out.

3.  The Management has proposed a contract that would allow them to fire any musician at any time, with no reason given and no recourse, with 6 months notice and a severance payment.

4.  The Management has proposed a contract that would allow them to lower or eliminate benefits at any time.

5.  Overscale, the payment above base salary for leadership roles and specialized skills for certain players, is guaranteed in our contract from one year to the next.  Management’s proposal removes that guarantee.

6.  The Musicians have offered numerous solutions to solve the financial difficulties, including a temporary reduction to the size of the orchestra, but Management refused, insisting that any changes had to be permanent.

Time is running out to save this season, and for our organization to have a chance to survive and thrive in the future.  Our goal is simple: to return to the stage to play for our beloved audiences, and to return to the negotiating table to find a solution to this crisis that we can all live by.  Please write to the Management and urge them not to cancel more concerts, to back off their unreasonable demands, and to allow us to play and talk.  Please write to the newspapers and your elected representatives and voice your opinions on the lockout.  You can share your letters with the Musicians and other fans on our website.  Thank you for your support!

Visit us on Facebook (Musicians of the SPCO) or at our website ( for more information on negotiations and how to help.

Addresses for letters:

Mayor Coleman, Office of the Mayor, 390 City Hall, 15 Kellogg Blvd W., St. Paul, MN  55102

Governor Dayton, Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55115

Dobson West, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, 408 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, MN  55102

3 Responses to “Musicians Publish Facts about SPCO Negotiations”

  1. Paul Magee December 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    I would appreciate an analysis of the offer by management, pinpointing the areas that are unacceptable to musicians. What are the clauses or changes that allow management to fire a musician on six months notice? How do they differ from the present contract? The change on benefits? One musician has told me that management proposes that administration, no musicians will have the right to choose the musicians. What is the change in language there? If overscale is guaranteed from one year to the next in the present contract, does that mean it can never be changed?

    I feel that both sides have told us only their side; I’d like some facts, not rhetoric.

    • SOSPCO Chair December 22, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

      Paul -

      I have passed along your questions to the musicians. Stay tuned for more info!

    • Leslie Shank December 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

      Hello Paul,I have pasted the exact language that was proposed with regard to eliminating positions and the severance package below. We have no such thing in our current agreement. We have the complement of the orchestra spelled out exactly in our current agreement. All positions must be filled by audition when a vacancy occurs.
      As for benefits, we have them spelled out exactly in our current agreement, that is, the Society pays 90% of the premium for single, and 80% of the premium for family. Their proposal was to make us equal with the staff who have no collective bargaining agreement, therefore no rights when it comes to deciding benefits.
      It is incorrect that we will not have the right to choose our musicians. However, they want the final say in granting tenure. This is currently in our agreement and has been problematic due to the fact that we have no music director with the expertise to help make these decisions. We have proposed a way that the musicians could overturn the Society’s denial of tenure with a 2/3 vote.
      Overscale can be changed, but cannot be lowered, only increased as our contract has always stated. They want the right to lower it, and if a musician disagrees with their offer, the management would then revert to the original $12,500 minimum overscale that they have proposed for all current musicians. New musicians would be at their mercy for anything over $50,000.
      Language about elimination of positions:
      b. The Society has the right to determine the number of Musicians in the Orchestra and the instrumentation needs of the Orchestra.
      c. In the event that the Society determines to eliminate a position in the Orchestra that is at the time of elimination occupied by a Musician whose full-time employment began before July 1, 2012, that Musician will be entitled to a Special Severance Benefit and the effective date of the elimination may not be sooner than the later of (i) June 30, 2013 or (ii) six months after written notice of elimination is given to such Musician. The Special Severance Benefit shall be $100,000. No Musician eligible for the Special Severance Benefit shall be entitled to receive the severance pay referred to in Section B.8.7 hereof.
      The Special Severance Benefit shall be paid in equal installments on each of the Society’s payroll periods over the twenty-four-month period beginning with the first payroll after the date of the elimination of the position subject to the Musician signing the Society’s release of claims form. No Pension shall be paid on the Special Severance Benefit. No other benefits shall be available to such Musician after the effective date of elimination, except as provided by COBRA.

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