There is some movement in the musician lock out at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In a joint statement released Thursday afternoon, the board and union said they will hold negotiations next Wednesday and Thursday (Jan. 2-3).

The parties will meet with a federal mediator in what is described as an informal session to discuss "the very challenging issues that confront them in these negotiations." Usually, these conversations are structured so that each side can speak freely, offering ideas that do not have the full weight of proposals. Solutions often arise from such off-the-record talks.

Significantly, both sides said they would not disclose publicly what is said in the meetings. That contrasts sharply with the tone that has been set over the past several months, during which each side has regularly published updates and statements on negotiations.

SPCO musicians were locked out Oct. 21 after they declined to approve a contract proposal. The two sides then met several times but bargaining broke off in early November.

A spokesman for the musicians at the Minnesota Orchestra said in an email Thursday that management and musicians would meet on Jan. 2. No other details were immediately available.


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