Tiny sign of movement toward resuming negotiations in Detroit Symphony strike
I don't pretend to be able to read the tea leaves left in the cup of any labor dispute, but a press release issued late Wednesday from the management of the Detroit Symphony made me think there might be a glimmer of hope toward -- well, toward resuming serious negotiations.
No idea if that would lead to a settlement to a strike by the musicians that has silenced the 2010-11 season, but it would be nice to know everyone was heading back into discussions.
Unfortunately, it sounds like tempers remain frayed, since the management statement opens with this loaded line: "This afternoon, while striking DSO players were continuing their agenda of misguided and impulsive communications, the DSO negotiating team was finalizing a new offer aimed at ending the current work stoppage."
The players, of course, have been sounding off as well, as in this statement also posted today in conjunction with a press conference:
In management's statement today, there's a slap at that press conference, too, described as "an indicator that DSO musicians may be more interested in their own PR machine than achieving a workable agreement."
Anyway, the faint sign of a crack in the ice I thought I might possibly have seen was the bit of news contained in the press release: Management "is prepared to submit to [a federal mediator] an offer detailing how it would spend $36 million over three years once it secures additional, sustainable funding that would both close the gap between its position and the union's and support the enhanced communal and educational activities that are now even more important for the orchestra to revive and thrive."
That $36 million figure is significant. As the Free Press reports: "The strike began Oct. 4 in response to implemented pay cuts of about 30 percent and work rule changes. The two sides remain $2 million apart. In December, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and then Gov. Jennifer Granholm publicly outlined a compromise that split the financial difference between the parties with a $36-million package over three years."
The players liked that idea, but management balked. Now, I guess, the situation has changed a bit.
I don't know where any of this will end. I only know that both sides, as usual in these labor disputes, have made choices of language and judgment that they will regret in the long run. But everyone needs to let go of something if there's going to be any chance of rescuing one of the country's finest orchestras.