In a letter to locked-out musicians on Friday, Coleman said he took their remaining contract concerns to orchestra management and received positive responses.
“Therefore, I believe that all remaining local issues between the SPCO management and the musicians that were prohibiting the resumption of the season are resolved,” the mayor wrote.
The SPCO season was suspended on Oct. 21 when musicians rejected a contract proposal and were locked out.
Minnesota Orchestra musicians have been locked out in their own pay dispute that recently passed the six-month mark, becoming the longest of any U.S. symphony in decades.
There is still some work to be done, said Carole Mason Smith, head of the SPCO musicians’ negotiating team. Their attorney, who was flying to Cleveland, would review the agreement Friday evening, she said.
“I think this is very hopeful,” Mason Smith said. “We hope to get a vote as soon as possible, but I’m sure there are some clarifications that need to be made.”
Dobson West, interim SPCO president, said in an interview, “This does give us a way to at least have the local deal essentially done.”
This deal would guarantee an annual base salary of $60,000, which is down about 18 percent from current levels. Also, the size of the full-time ensemble would be reduced to 28, from 34 players. The deal would also institute an early-retirement program.
If ratified, the deal technically is a “talk-and-play” agreement. If no other deal is negotiated by June 30, however, the terms of this agreement would extend for three years, through the 2015-16 season.
Still unresolved is an agreement with the national American Federation of Musicians (AFM) related to electronic music distribution rights. West wrote in a letter to stakeholders Friday afternoon that he will not formally submit the mayor’s proposal “until such time as we have reached an agreement with the AFM.”
“If we’re where the mayor thinks we are, then we can pitch a deal to the AFM,” West said.
Coleman was not available to comment further Friday.
Concerts possible after May 5
West said that if the musicians’ negotiating committee indicates by 5 p.m. Monday that it will recommend ratification, the SPCO will begin talks with the AFM, with a deadline of April 15 in order to restart concerts, likely after May 5.
Equally important is the SPCO’s ability to announce and start marketing a 2013-14 season. Traditionally by now, programs have been announced and tickets are being sold.
Coleman, who last fall offered his services to find a settlement, entered the process in mid-March and helped to produce a proposal on March 20 that musicians turned down in a nonbinding vote.
West said he understands the mayor asked musicians on Wednesday about their objections. West and several board members then spent several hours Thursday addressing those questions. They dealt with payment for freelance substitutes, guarantees of protection from reprisals for union activities (already prohibited under federal labor law), rules surrounding the recording of rehearsals, and artistic review.
“With all local issues resolved in accordance with the demands of the musicians as outlined to me this week, I presume you will recommend this new offer to the full membership for approval,” Coleman wrote to musician negotiators.
Principal cellist Tony Ross testified to the Minnesota House Legacy Committee on Friday that locked-out Minnesota Orchestra musicians hope to put on a season next fall with or without the participation of management. The committee, chaired by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, is considering whether to direct Legacy dollars to a nonprofit organization that would fund locked-out musicians — if a contract agreement is not made by June 30. According to formula, the orchestra gets something less than $1 million a year from the state.
Ross said a nonprofit has been formed and has a preliminary budget for next year. He offered no other details.