With a 5 p.m. deadline looming, the negotiations between musicians and management at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra have reached the moment of high-stakes brinksmanship. The rest of the season, the start of next season and the future of the orchestra itself could be in the balance.
Mayor Chris Coleman sent a letter to musicians on Friday, in which he claimed he had heard their remaining objections and received what he considered to be satisfactory responses from management. "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. He presumed the deal would be recommended to musicians.
On Saturday, the musicians' negotiating team sent the mayor a letter declining the offer. The letter was made public this morning and it said management's proposal differed from Coleman's promises. The musicians also raised other issues and said management should accept an earlier memorandum of agreement that the musicians put forward on March 29.
Management whacked the ball back over the net this morning, claiming it had in fact honored its commitments to Coleman and that its proposal reflected the changes that the Mayor had brokered.
Coleman, in a letter to musicians released early this afternoon, appears to support the management's version of events, stating that "I find that their [management's] proposal meets both their commitment and included everything that I expected."
Coleman reiterates his understanding of conversations that were held last week between him and the musicians, and between him and the board.
He concludes, "I have made all possible attempts to bring this orchestra lockout to a resoltuion. I have reviewed the Society's proposal and your feedback on that proposal, and it appears to me that all of these issues have been resolved...None of your remaining concerns, in my opinion, rise to the level of importance that would be worth jeopardizing the long-term viability of this orchestra."