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SPCO accord brokered by Mayor Coleman falls flat

Friday’s good news of a brokered peace accord between management and locked-out musicians doesn’t last long.

St. Paul was humming the good news Friday: A deal between the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and its locked-out musicians was near, thanks to the continued efforts of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

But now the musicians say no deal.

And that could mean trouble for the rest of the chamber’s season: Management has set a deadline of today, April 8, for an agreement or the rest of the season will be canceled.

Coleman met with management on Wednesday, then sent a letter to musicians Friday saying:

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“I believe that all remaining local issues between the SPCO management and the musicians that were prohibiting the resumption of the season are resolved.”

But the deal was quickly rejected by the musicians, saying the new brokered accord doesn’t address many of their concerns.

In a public letter on a musicians’ website, the musicians’ negotiating committee on Saturday listed their problems with the latest management offer. And they say:

In conclusion, we believe the only way to resolve this dispute without the further cancellation of any concerts is for Management to accept and sign the MOA we proposed on April 2nd by 5 p.m. on April 8th. Such action by the Society assures first that the commitments made to you by Management on April 5th will be kept, and second assures that there will be an agreement signed by 5 p.m. on April 8th that we will submit for ratification with the unanimous support of the Negotiating Committee. Please let us know if your office will insist that Management honor its commitments made to you which were not reflected in the Outline that Management sent to us on April 5th.

The on-going dispute is hampering planning for next year’s season, too. SPCO Interim President Dobson West told MPR:

“We would be in a position where we really can’t sell tickets unless we are really sure we are going to have an orchestra, and we won’t be able to raise money if we don’t have a season and that would put us in a very bad position. And put us in a position where we would really seriously need to look at suspending operations.”

Coleman’s office said this morning that he is preparing a letter on the matter, to be issued later today.