There’s a management offer on the table, and a management-dictated deadline to accept it or the else, but there’s no agreement between the negotiating teams:
Detroit Symphony Orchestra management made what it calls a final offer to musicians tonight, requesting an up-or-down vote on the contract proposal by 5 p.m. Thursday.
The move — which comes in the wake of five days of talks during which the two sides found common ground on some key issues but remained divided on a number of others, including base pay — starts the clock ticking again toward a possible cancellation of the season as early as Thursday.
DSO Executive Vice President Paul Hogle declined to discuss specifics but speaking broadly said that the two sides had made “considerable progress” since Friday, reaching consensus on a number of work-rule issues, benefit issues such as health care and an approach to community service work including chamber music.
However, Hogle confirmed that conflicts remain over the fundamental issue of base-pay compensation, rules governing electronic media distribution and the size of the ensemble.
“The negotiating team is optimistic that this is a very constructive offer,” Hogle said.
Cellist Haden McKay, a spokesman for the musicians, declined to address specifics of the proposal or the musicians’ likely response pending a meeting with the full orchestra scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday. He struck a more measured tone than management.
“At certain points during the weekend, we thought progress had been made,” McKay said. “At this point, we’re really not so sure.”
The bit about “rules governing electronic media distribution” is, for me, the “tell” that management is still pushing an agenda beyond simple expense control. Anyone who knows anything about electronic media knows that nothing the DSO will do in that area will make any money, and that there are already lots of ways to do media cheaply.
If the hole is as deep in Detroit as management keeps saying (and no one disputes that it’s deep), then why is one of the the remaining blocks to an agreement that is essential for the orchestra’s future a management proposal to do something completely irrelevant to the orchestra’s survival?
The first rule of concessionary bargaining is that, if managements need concessions, they shouldn’t ask for extraneous crap at the same time. Asking for the stuff that DSO management has put on the table, and holding on to even some of it at this point in the process, is evidence of either incompetence or bad faith.
How does the DSO put on a season next year in the absence of a season this year and an agreement for next year?