This letter acknowledges receipt of your letter dated October 17, 2012 and the enclosed “Voting Offer” concerning negotiations between the Twin Cities Musicians Union, Local No. 30 73, American Federation of Musicians (Union) and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Society (Society). Your letter neither fully nor accurately states the situation between the parties.
Your letter states, as the Society has repeatedly claimed, that the last proposal made by the Union and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Negotiating Committee (Committee) on September 25, 2012 does not include “any material savings to the Society.” That statement overlooks the calculations made by the Society which confirm that the Musicians’ proposal would save the Society nearly $1 Million from reduced compensation to the Musicians, and taxes and other related charges, over a three-year period.
That statement also continues to ignore the requests of the Union and the Committee that the Society modestly increase its ticket prices to improve its financial performance. Documentation prepared by the Union and the Committee and presented to the Society shows that the ticket prices of the Society are among the lowest of major symphony orchestras in the United States. That documentation also shows that the ticket prices of the Society are among the lowest of all entertainment activities in the Twin Cities area.
That market price documentation is enclosed with this letter. The Society’s continued refusal to take the most obvious step to improve its financial condition, a modest increase in ticket prices, and instead to require huge additional sacrifices by its Musicians, is both unfair and unprincipled. This is especially true because the Musicians have agreed to concessions over the last ten years which have saved the Society over $2,200,000. During that period the Musicians are probably the largest contributor to the Society.
When your revised proposal, which you state is the same as the “Voting Offer”, was presented on Friday, October 12, the Union and Committee presented an Information Request to the Society seeking the basic financial information necessary to evaluate the impact of each component of the Society’s proposal. When that Information Request was presented, the Union and the Committee stated that there would be no response to the offer of the Society until after the Society had responded to the Information Request. No response was made to the Society’s offer of October 12 by October 16 because there was no Society response made to the Information Request. While our request was directed to the Society’s proposal originally made on September 7, 2012, the only difference between that proposal and the Society proposal made on October 12 is the addition of a fourth year with no change except the payment of a $2,000 bonus. Our Information Request sought a detailed calculation of the amount of savings in the compensation and related costs for the Musicians of the Orchestra which would be received by the Society upon acceptance of that proposal. As the Information Request stated, those calculations are to be in explicit detail showing all calculations of the amounts that would be saved from each component of the Society’s proposal. A copy of that Information Request is enclosed with this letter. To date, the Society has not responded to that Information Request and has not indicated if or when it will respond.
In addition, another Information Request significant to Musicians’ review is enclosed with this letter. Our second Request seeks a detailed calculation of the amounts that have been saved by the Society by failing to fill two current vacancies within the Orchestra.
Both calculations should include savings from reduced taxes and any other reductions in expenses which are related to the reductions in compensation. Complete responses to both of these Information Requests should be received by 5:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Thursday, October 25, 2012 so that they can be fully analyzed, and if necessary further clarification provided by the Society, before the Musicians of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra consider the “Voting Offer.”
The responses to the Information Requests are necessary because the full savings of the Society’s proposal and the savings from a delay in filling permanent vacancies must be known before the Musicians consider the “Voting Offer” of the Society.
Your letter also fails to acknowledge two offers made by the Union and the Committee to very significantly reduce the expenses of the Society while the Society, and the Union and Committee, continued discussions in efforts to mutually accept a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The first of these offers was to reduce the current annual salary of $78,223 to $70,000 while the performances continued and the parties continued to negotiate (“play and talk”). This was the offer which saved the Society nearly $1 Million over three years. The second offer was a request made to the Society to state if there was any level of Minimum Annual Salary which the Society would be willing to pay while play and talk continued under the other terms of the now expired 2007-2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Society refused both offers and stated that all the essential terms of its offers had to be accepted by the Musicians before it would continue to play and talk. Those terms could only be changed if the Society later agreed to do so in the continuing negotiations. That offer was not accepted by the Union and the Committee as it would effectively mean permanent acceptance of the Society’s offer without further productive negotiations.
It is important to remember that all of the offers made by the Society beginning on
September 7, 2012 require a 33% reduction in the average guaranteed annual compensation of the Musicians for four years. A detailed explanation of the calculation of that reduction is enclosed. The only guaranteed increase in pay during those four years is a $2,000 payment at the beginning of the fourth year. That amount is unlikely to keep pace with inflation over those four years.
Each of these offers also removed all provisions in the Collective Bargaining Agreement which specify the terms of medical, dental, disability and life insurance. The benefits and the costs to the Musicians for each of these forms of insurance may be changed at will by the Society under these proposals.
Each offer also places total control of the number of musicians in the orchestra and the actual musicians who will continue to perform in the hands of the Society. Each of these offers gives the Society the right to discharge any Musicians at any time subject only to a severance payment.
All of these offers also include provisions concerning the electronic media rights and obligations of the Society. As the Society has been repeatedly told by the Union, the Committee and the American Federation of Musicians, most of such rights and obligations have to be negotiated with the American Federation of Musicians and not the Union. Therefore, those terms of the “Voting Offer” will not be considered by the Musicians.
In spite of the basic unfairness of the Society’s “Voting Offer”, the Union and the Committee will submit it to a vote of the Musicians at the earliest time when the vast majority of the Musicians will be in the Twin Cities area. If complete and appropriate responses to both Information Requests are timely provided by the Society, including any clarifications requested after the initial responses are received, that vote will take place on October 31, 2012.
Very truly yours,
Brad Eggen, President
cc: James Dawson, Esq.
Melvin S. Schwarzwald, Esq.
TCMU, Board of Directors
SPCO Negotiating Committee