Statement from Negotiating Committee Chair, Carole Mason Smith

We are deeply disappointed that Management continues to be blind to the devastating consequences its proposal will have on this orchestra and on this community.

Management rejected our two latest proposals today – both we believe would’ve helped preserve the artistic quality of the SPCO and provide more time to organize an effective endowment drive.

We asked that an independent, highly-qualified Arts Manager be brought in to assess the long-term impact Management’s proposal would have on the artistic quality of the SPCO, and the financial status of the Society.  We also asked for a contract extension – one that would let us continue to play for this community while we worked out our differences with Management. Unfortunately, both of our proposals were rejected.

Carole Mason Smith

Letter to the Board from Nicholas McGegan. OBE. ,Former director of the SPCO Baroque Series and former Artistic Partner

To the Ladies and Gentlemen of the SPCO Board.

First of all I would like to thank you for a delightful week with the orchestra at the beginning of June. Performing Haydnʼs Seasons with the SPCO reinforced for me everything that I admire so much about the orchestra: not only the superb quality of music making from the players but also the fact that, though of course they are an orchestra, they perform like chamber musicians. This makes them a ʻpearl beyond priceʼ and they can only be that because they are not just a group of players but a real musical family. They all know each other so well that they can respond to each other musically in a way that is not possible in a larger or less consistent group. As such, they are at the top of their league, certainly in the USA and probably in much of the world. These are dedicated musicians who have devoted a good part of their lives to the orchestra at what is already a lower remuneration than offered by orchestras in other parts of the country. They prefer to be with the SPCO precisely because of the unique musical qualities for which it is famous.

From what I have read in the newspaper, it seems that this family might now be under threat. Everyone is, of course, sympathetic to problems caused by the current adverse financial climate. However it appears from the outside that in trying to rein in the budget, the proposals would in fact jeopardize much that makes the SPCO what it is. The SPCO is, I must stress, a family as well as a business.

I sincerely hope that you will carefully consider what you will lose if the proposals that I have seen in the newspaper are adopted. I see that the plans for a new hall are going well. The SPCO will finally have a home worthy of it. Let us hope that the present SPCO family, one which makes it a world class orchestra, will still be around to enjoy performing in it.

Nicholas McGegan. OBE.
Former director of the SPCO Baroque Series and former Artistic Partner.

Letter to SPCO Management from long time subscriber, Kay Peltier

Here is what I would like to see happen in the contract negotiations:

1. Accept the proposal from the musicians.

2. Make percentage cuts to the salary of every single staff person, from the top down, equal to the cuts that the musicians will be making.  (Saying that cuts in the number of staff and the resulting “savings” in salaries is equivalent to the musicians taking pay cuts is neither true nor acceptable.)

3. Heed the overwhelming number of messages from loyal subscribers and from professionals around the world that urge you not to cut salaries, benefits, tenure, etc.

4. Raise ticket prices to cover a portion of the deficit.  The drop in ticket prices a couple of years ago seemed like a great thing, but now I see what a misguided change that was.


Kay Peltier
34 year season ticket subscriber and very modest donor

Pioneer Press/9-26, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra managers reject union contract offer

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s management has rejected the latest counteroffer from the musicians union in ongoing contract negotiations.

In a statement late Wednesday, Sept. 26, SPCO president Dobson West called the proposal a “very small step forward” that does not provide any material savings and places the financial burden on the orchestra’s audience and donors.

He said the musicians’ proposed changes — which include additional salary cuts and shifting funds set aside for musician buyouts into the operating budget — do nothing to address fixed costs. But West also said he’s hopeful the two sides can reach an agreement. They’re scheduled to meet again Saturday for two more days of negotiations.

“It is disheartening that management isn’t interested in preserving the historic ensemble,” wrote Carole Mason Smith, chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee, in a statement posted online. “We need the public now more than ever to contact management and ask them to reconsider. Time is running out.”

The current contract expires Sunday, Sept. 30.

By Ross Raihala

SPCO Musicians’ Response to latest rejection of proposal 9-26-12

“It is disheartening that management isn’t interested in preserving this historic ensemble….we need the public now more than ever to contact management and ask them to reconsider – time is running out.

Sadly, Management admits that it has the money right now to save the Orchestra – to keep our best musicians – but they would rather force musicians into retirement than save the SPCO.

This seems to be a way of removing the current Musicians and replacing them with new Musicians at a $50,000 Minimum Annual Salary.  This will not preserve artistic quality. ”

Carole Mason Smith
Chair SPCO Musicians Negotiations Committee

Carole Mason – Smith / Chair of SPCO Musicians negotiating committee, September 25, 2012, Musicians of the SPCO present counterproposal


“We presented another proposal to Management today which includes substantial salary concessions and additional services. Bottom line: We are willing to be paid less and play more. Musicians are willing to provide eight (8) free services a year plus services for small gatherings of donors.

“We are offering to cut our salaries across the board 10.5% over the next two years and approximately 4% in the third year of a new contract. Our latest concessions will save the Orchestra more than $700,000.

“These savings, coupled with the approximately $3 million that Management wants to use to buy out some of our most talented and experienced musicians, will buy the Orchestra time to finally put together an effective endowment drive.”

Carole Mason – Smith / Chair of SPCO Musicians negotiating committee

Third Proposal of The Twin Cities Musicians Union and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Negotiating Committee Presented to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Society On September 25, 2012

These Proposals are for modifications to the Master Agreement by and between The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Society (Society) and the Twin Cities Musicians Union, Local No. 30-73, American Federation of Musicians (Union) which is effective from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2012 (Master Agreement), as modified by the Memoranda of Understanding between the Society and the Union which were executed on May 15, 2009, June 15, 2010 and July 6, 2011. Any provisions of the Master Agreement or any of the Memoranda of Understanding which are not addressed in these proposals are to be continued without change.

Provisions of these Proposals which are in quotation marks are proposed as final language to be incorporated into the Master Agreement.


B.1.1 Contract Years Included
The Master Agreement shall be effective from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015. B.1.2 Length of Contract Year

“Each contract year shall include a performance season of thirty-two (32) performance weeks and four (4) vacation weeks which shall occur between the Tuesday after Labor Day and through the Saturday after Memorial Day, except that when there are less than four (4) days in June after Memorial Day, the performance season shall continue through the second Saturday in June after Memorial Day. Once during the term of this Agreement the Society may specify a period during the month of August in which a single event is scheduled which may be added to the performance season. The Society must give each Musician written notice of the exact dates of this period and the event which will take place during this period at least one (1) year prior to this event.”

“During each performance season up to eight (8) services would be available for the purpose of fundraising without any additional payment to the Musicians. The use and scheduling of these services must be approved in writing by the Orchestra Committee.”

B.3.1 Minimum Annual Salary

Date of Ratification – June 30, 2013 $70,000 July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014 $70,000
July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015 $75,000


B.3.4. Calculation of Per-Service Rate and Overtime

“An Individual’s rate for extra weeks of work shall equal the sum of Minimum Annual Salary plus annual overscale divided by thirty-six (36). The per-service rate shall be the rate for extra weeks of work divided by eight (8).”

B.3.6 Seniority Pay

Add category for 5 to 9 years at $500.


B.8.5 Pension Plan

Effective July 1, 2014 the Society shall contribute for all Regular Musicians and substitute and extra Musicians ten percent (10%) of the individual Musician’s salary into the American Federation of Musicians and Employer’s Pension Fund, or whatever higher amount is required by the Rehabilitation Plan or other statutorily required Plan adopted by the Trustees of the Fund.

B.7.7 Severance Terms

The severance benefit shall include three (3) years of either individual or family coverage under the Medical and Hospitalization Plan of the Society, as required by the Musician, under the same terms such coverage is provided to active Musicians.

B.3.7 (Change to) Parking and Mileage Allowances – Withdrawn SHARED SACRIFICE

The annual salary of each employee of the Society which equals or exceeds $78,223 on September 25, 2012 shall be reduced or increased by the same percentage that the Minimum Annual Salary of Musicians are reduced or increased, effective on the same dates, during the 2012-2015 Agreement.


  1. The prices of all tickets, except the SPCO Membership, shall be increased by 20% effective September 1, 2012.
  2. The SPCO Membership shall be increased to $7.50 per month effective September 1, 2013.




(Add to first paragraph) “Musician members of committees, and any task forces or similar groups, shall be elected by a majority of the Musicians of the Orchestra who vote in each election.

B.2.1 Artistic Vision Committee

In the eighth responsibility of the AVC remove the words “and assignments.”

The membership of this Committee shall include three (3) tenured Musicians. If the Concertmaster agrees he or she will be one of these Musicians. One (1) member shall be elected by the Orchestra from the winds, brass and percussion Musicians, and one (1) member shall be elected by the Orchestra from the string Musicians. If the Concertmaster does not choose to serve on this Committee, the other members of the Committee will select the third Musician to serve on the Committee. The vote in the absence of consensus shall be by a super-majority of five (5). One (1) winds, brass and percussion Musicians representative and one (1) strings Musician representative shall initially be elected for a two (2) year term, and one (1) of each shall be elected for a one-year term. Thereafter, all Musician representatives shall be elected for two (2) year terms.

The management members of this Committee shall be chosen by the Society.

“The Artistic Vision Committee shall not engage in any discussion or consideration involving individual members of the Orchestra which are in any way disparaging of or injurious to any Musician.”

B.2.2 Artistic Personnel Committee

The membership of this Committee shall include four (4) tenured Musicians. Two (2) shall be selected from the winds, brass and percussion Musicians, and two (2) from the string Musicians. The vote in the absence of consensus shall be by a super-majority of five (5). One (1) winds, brass and percussion Musicians representative and one (1) strings Musician representative shall initially be elected for a two (2) year term, and one (1) of each shall be elected for a one-year term. Thereafter, all Musician representatives shall be elected for two (2) year terms.

The management members of this Committee shall be chosen by the Society.


The following responsibilities shall be removed from this Committee: Auditions

The following responsibilities shall be added to this Committee.

Overseeing Orchestra solo, ensemble, and chamber music programming, in consultation with the Artistic Vision Committee (AVC).

The APC will develop a system for violin rotation and notification in consultation with the violin section.

“The Artistic Personnel Committee shall not engage in any discussion or consideration of the Committee involving individual members of the Orchestra may in any way be disparaging of or injurious to any Musician.”


“All auditions held for the purpose of choosing members of the Orchestra shall follow the procedure outlined below and will be conducted in accordance with the ICSOM Code of Ethical Practices for National Auditions (Appendix B).

1. Each vacancy shall be identified as to the specific opening and be announced by advertisement in the International Musician and the Duet, the advertisements to appear at least sixty (60) days in advance of the audition.

2. The Society will create or continue a permanent web page, which will list current vacancies, together with audition details including the repertoire list and the job description.

3. Within seven (7) days of learning that a Musician will be leaving the Orchestra, the Society will notify the Orchestra Committee in writing that there will be a vacancy in that position and the date on which that vacancy will occur. Within fourteen (14) days of receipt of such notice of a vacancy from the Society, the Orchestra shall elect an Audition Committee of eight (8) tenured Musicians as follows:

Woodwind and brass auditions – five (5) principal woodwind or brass players
String auditions – five (5) principal string players
Percussion auditions – three (3) principal woodwind or brass players, and three (3) principal string players


The above principals shall be augmented by one other player of the auditioning instrument and two members of the opposite instrumental family.

In the case of percussion auditions, the principals will be augmented by one (1) woodwind or brass player, and one (1) string player

4. Each Audition Committee shall meet in advance of the preliminary auditions to decide all procedural details of the preliminary auditions. All procedural details shall be determined by a majority vote. An advisory document with procedural recommendations for each Audition Committee shall be distributed to each Audition Committee member by the Personnel Manager as soon as the Committee is formed.

5. Candidates will be informed prior to the audition, of the audition and tenure procedures of the Orchestra under this Agreement.

6. Within fourteen (14) days of the election of the Audition Committee, the Committee shall agree on a repertoire list for all candidates. Candidates will be informed of the repertoire list upon receipt of their resume. All candidates will play the same repertoire in each round.

7. Screens will be used for all preliminary audition rounds. The final round will be without screens.

8. The Society shall inform each auditionee that if s/he is asked to play a final audition on a day that is not consecutive with that of the preliminary audition, the Society shall bear the cost of the auditioneeʼs second transportation.

9. The Audition Committee will recommend qualified candidates to be heard in the final auditions in addition to the following:
a) Any current member of the Orchestra who auditions for an open position shall be automatically advanced to the final round.

b) Except in special circumstances, invited candidates shall be included in the audition process at the semi-final round. Exceptional candidates identified by the Audition Committee may be invited to the final round.

10. Full-time members of the Orchestra may be present during auditions. They may serve in an advisory capacity, but will not be considered voting members.

11. An Artistic Representative of the Society (Artistic Partner, Principal Conductor or Music Director), and the Director of Artistic Planning may participate in the audition process in an advisory capacity and shall be included in all discussions.

12. The Musicians on the Committee shall vote on each candidate individually at the conclusion of each round. Candidates must receive at least eighty percent (80%) approval of the Musician members of the Committee to move to the next round and to be offered a trial period in the Orchestra.


13. The trial period will consist of playing in the Orchestra for at least one week.

14. Following the trial period(s), the winning candidate must be affirmed by at least eighty percent (80%) of the Musician members of the Committee.

15. The Audition Committee shall serve until the vacant position is filled. In the case of a vacancy on the Audition Committee which does not occur while an audition is in progress, the Committee has the option to invite another Musician from the same instrument category to become part of the committee.”


B.6.1 Pre-Tenure Period

“The pre-tenure period for full membership in The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra shall be two (2) years, except that the Tenure Review Committee may grant tenure after one (1) year.”

B.6.2 (Change to) “Tenure Review Committee

The original Audition Committee will serve as the Tenure Review Committee (TRC).” B.6.3 Artistic Personnel Committee’s Role (Delete)
“B.6.4 Schedule of Meetings During Pre-Tenure Period

During the pre-tenure period, the TRC shall schedule meetings with the pre-tenure Musician in October, December, February, April and June in the first year and October and November in the second year, and provide him/her with written, constructive feedback. The TRC shall also arrange opportunities for the full Orchestra membership to provide input during the pre-tenure period.”

B.6.6 Recommendation of the Tenure Review Committee

“By December 1st of the second probationary season, the TRC shall vote on whether or not to grant tenure. If the Committee votes to grant tenure and the Society does not agree with the recommendation of the Committee, the Committee may request that the Orchestra vote on the issue of tenure within one week of the Society’s decision. If two-thirds (2/3) or more of the tenured Musicians vote in favor of granting tenure, it shall be granted.

B.6.7 Notice Requirement in First Pre-Tenure Year

Each pre-tenure Musician will be notified by February 1st if they are being hired back for a second season.


B.6.8 Notice Requirement in Second Pre-Tenure Year

Each pre-tenure Musician will be notified by December 15th if they are to be granted tenure.” B.6.9 Notice Requirement in Subsequent Pre-Tenure Years (Delete)
B.6.10 Dispute/Complaint Resolution Process (Delete)
B.6.11 Artistic Personnel Committee’s Role (Delete)

B.8.2 Medical and Hospitalization Plan – (Withdrawn)

B.8.10 Annual Review of Insurance Policies

(Change the last sentence to read) “If the Society receives a 10% increase in the cost of a specific group policy in any year, the Society and the Orchestra Committee shall agree upon changes of carriers, levels of coverage, plan design or the amount of premiums to be paid by the Musicians to limit the increase in cost of that specific group policy to the Society to no more than 10% in that year.

B.8.11. Continuation of Insurance and Pension

“The Society shall continue all insurance benefits and coverage, and the Pension Plan provisions, in effect for Musicians on June 1, 2012 during the entire term of this Agreement, including any extension under the terms of Section B.1.1. of this Agreement.



C.1.2 Service Categories

d. Concerts Rehearsals: (The following changes should be made to these provisions)

Only one three-hour rehearsal per week which may not occur on the day of a performance.

All 3.5 hour rehearsals will be counted as two services.

Brush up rehearsals will only be permitted on tour.

C.1.2 b. i. (The first sentence should be changed to read) Participation shall be voluntary.

C.1.6 Free Days

There shall be at least sixteen (16) sets of double free days in each concert season.

C.1.11 Free Days/Sunday Services

In any forty (40) week season only sixteen (16) Sunday services will be permitted.

C.2.3 Rehearsal Schedule Limitations
No rehearsal or family concert shall begin earlier than 10:00 a.m. C.2.5 Schedule Distribution and Changes

(The first sentence of the third paragraph shall be changed to read) “In the event that it is necessary to change the order or works to be rehearsed in a service, the Musicians, whenever possible, shall be given at least twenty-four (24) hours notice thereof, provided, however, that a Musician shall not be required to attend a part or the whole of the service for which s/he was previously excused if the change in the order or works to be rehearsed occurs within two (2) weeks of the service.”

Rehearsals shall be scheduled so that pieces requiring the greatest number of Musicians shall be rehearsed first, then Musicians shall be released from rehearsal if they are not playing other pieces.

All notifications of changes in the order of rehearsals must be made twenty-four (24) hours before the beginning of the rehearsal.


C.6.5 Leave of Absence

d. ii. (The last sentence shall be replaced by the following) “If a Musician requests two weeks or less of personal leave to play in another orchestra, and if a substitute Musician on the approved list of substitutes is available, such leave shall be granted. If the reason for personal leave is outside of these guidelines, the Musician shall provide his/her reason to the Society, in confidence and an approved substitute is available, the leave shall be approved. If an approved substitute is not available, consideration and approval shall be on a case-by-case base and not unreasonably denied.


(Change the first sentence to) “Solo pay shall be paid at the rate of $200 per performance. All soloist fees may be negotiated at a rate above this minimum.”

“E.1.7 Disciplinary Use
No electronic media material may be considered or used to discipline any Musician.”




If any Musician is required to attend a meeting with management, the Musician shall be informed of the purpose or purposes for the meeting when he/she is informed of the meeting. The Musician may bring a member of the Orchestra Committee or a representative of the Union with him/her to any such meeting, and management shall inform the Musician of this right when he/she is informed of the meeting.”


The maximum number of meetings at which management may require the attendance of the Musicians is four (4) per season. Two (2) of these meetings shall include discussion with the Artistic Vision Committee as to all matters within its jurisdiction.”


Conform this Appendix to the language currently being used. APPENDIX C (Delete)

SOCIETY PROPOSALS – All Society proposals not reflected in these proposals, are rejected.

(The Union and the Orchestra Committee reserve the right to add to or modify these Proposals.)

GL116.002/Union Proposals/THIRD PROOPOSALS – SPCO Local 30-73 – 9-25-12