DSO’s Leadership rejects binding arbitration

DSO’s Leadership Rejects Binding Arbitration

After the rejection of DSO Management’s “final offer” by the musicians on February 19, the orchestra members continued to try to find a compromise that would bring the orchestra back on stage. On Tuesday, March 1, we offered to return to work immediately if management would agree to submit all remaining unresolved issues from the last offer of each side to binding arbitration before a three-person panel. The majority could adopt the position of one party over the position of the other, or they could propose something different.

Offering binding arbitration as a solution is not an option we choose lightly; it means we would have to give up control over some of the very issues we are striking over. Still, we feel it is the only way to get the orchestra immediately back on stage as performances can begin while the arbitration process finalizes a contract in the background. Earned and contributed revenue can begin to flow with the assurance that a contract will follow. A much needed healing process can begin for the entire community. This is a fair, equitable, and expeditious way of preserving this great institution for now, and for future generations. This is our goal.

Although DSO PR Director Elizabeth Weigandt attended the musicians’ 2 pm press conference in front of Orchestra Hall on March 1, took notes, and was handed a full statement of the binding arbitration proposal, DSO management chose to pretend late that afternoon that they knew nothing definite beyond the fact that we were offering to return to work. They proceeded to send the musicians’ bargaining team their own completely different proposal:

1. The musicians must come back to work under management’s imposed “Proposal “B” with a no-strike agreement.
2. Once on stage, with an agreement not to go on strike again, the parties would meet with a mediator to discuss their differences, for yet another time.
3. Then, at some point in the future, the parties would discuss the possibility of maybe having limited binding arbitration on a small number of issues which would not include management’s financial offer, allocation of the money in that offer, media proposal, and other issues important to management.

And indeed this is how the management story has played out over the last five days. Contrary to assertions made to the press last Friday, March 4, DSO leaders failed to follow through on their stated willingness to engage in “earnest” talks over the weekend. In their last conversation with the musicians’ lawyer, Friday, DSO leadership verbally stated they could not agree to the musicians’ offer of binding arbitration as a pathway to return the musicians to the stage. After refusing to formalize their statement in writing, they then announced in the press that discussions would be ongoing over the weekend. In reality, discussions stopped. After the exchange of each other’s “pathway,” management said they would call the musicians’ lawyer over the weekend to continue discussions. They didn’t. DSO’s leadership obviously doesn’t want the orchestra back under any conditions other than its own and are attempting to delay and delay. What are they afraid of? DSO’s leadership misled everyone then and continues to mislead with their latest negotiations update.

The musicians have appealed to the full DSO Board, as the men and women who are legally responsible for the fate of the institution, to meet and vote on our binding arbitration offer. We believe that they owe as much to the entire community.

– The Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra


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