FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3/7/11
Contact: Greg Bowens, Bowens & Co., 248.275.3156, email@example.com
DSO EXECUTIVES FAIL TO HOLD PROMISED TALKS ON ARBITRATION PROPOSAL OVER WEEKEND
Detroit – The striking musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are reporting that no talks were held between negotiators this past weekend as management assurances to the press Friday they would engage in such activities never materialized.
“DSO executives are saying one thing to the press and doing another privately,” said Gordon Stump, president of the musicians. “Management told the press, its board and the public that talks about any concerns they had over the arbitration pathway to a settlement would continue throughout the weekend. That did not happen.”
On Sunday musicians concluded their second day of hand delivering the proposal to board members. Word of CEO Anne Parsons’ startling email to members urging them to ignore the arbitration proposal drew sharp criticisms from supporters in social media over the weekend. Parson’s message was sent at 6:34 p.m. Friday — exactly 22 minutes after she, her lawyer and the musicians’ lawyer concluded a conference call at 6:12 p.m. That conference call was the last communication between the parties despite assurances from management to the press on the same day that they would continue over the weekend.
Even so, reaction about managements’ high handed tactics towards members of its governing body did not go unnoticed by the public. Reaction to the tersely worded email sent at 6:34 p.m. Friday, March 4, 2011 are posted on the musicians’ fan page.
“People know the DSO is a tax exempt, therefore publicly supported venture run by a board of directors from a broad cross section of citizens from Detroit and the surrounding communities,” said Stump. “It is not a private company whose board members are accountable to shareholders looking for a quarterly dividend. They are accountable to the wider community. Their voice should not be silenced by a small cabal of executives acting as if the non-profit agency was their own private company.”
Musicians’ had emailed the same board members asking them to hold a meeting of the full board to vote and accept the Pathway to a Peaceful Settlement binding arbitration proposal. Musicians then went door-to-door this weekend visiting board members to deliver the letter (see attached).
Parsons’ tersely worded email said in part,” We learned that the musicians have sent letters and emails to the board this weekend urging you to agree to settle the contract through arbitration…Tell them, “Thank you for your email. As I’m sure you know, your offer is being discussed by your lawyer, orchestra management and our lawyer. Please direct all future communications on this subject through that channel.”
After telling the board members to ignore the musicians, Parson dismisses the idea that board members have any say in the decision to accept the musicians’ offer, “the management negotiating team will bring a recommendation to the executive committee on this topic as soon as we have something we feel you can support,” she writes.
The pressure by management to silence the board occurs in the wake of an offer made by the musicians to return to work and end the labor dispute while a binding arbitration process runs its course to a new contract. The musicians offered to submit all remaining unresolved issues to binding arbitration before a three person panel. They would select one arbitrator, DSO executives would select one, and these two individuals would select a third. The parties would present and argue their position on each of the unresolved issues, and ultimately, the panel would issue a final and binding decision which was approved by at least two of the three. The majority could adopt the position of one party over the position of the other, or they could propose something different. Any provisions of the arbitrators’ decision which can be made retroactively will be so implemented.
Meanwhile, the striking musicians are performing community concerts numbers 15 to 20 in March. For more information on the concert series and ticket prices visit www.detroitsymphonymusicians.org