|MOA President Michael Henson (source: MinnPost.com)|
The musicians, god love 'em, made proposals anyway. They proposed that they "play and talk." The MOA rejected that as too expensive for the organization. The musicians proposed binding arbitration. The MOA rejected that. The musicians requested and proposed a joint independent financial analysis of the MOA to learn if their finances are in order, that their projections for the future are reasonable, how they compare to other major orchestras of comparable budget, how the board rates in their competence, the viability of fundraising, and of artistic plans. The MOA pushed this away, claiming that it was a typical union stalling tactic, calling it a "frolic and detour," and that they do an independent audit each year that's made public. They also claimed to have given the musicians all the financial information that they'd requested (except they had not, not really).
And that's the way the situation stood until mid-December when it became public that the Minnesota State Legislature had become interested in the economic impact of the lockout as well as how the MOA had used public funds given to it by the State. The MOA invited the musicians back to the table in early January. But this did not stop State Legislators from holding public hearings about the lock-outs (both MOA and the SPCO) and to investigate the use of public funds by the MOA, and finally to request the Legislative Auditor take a look at MOA's books.
At the January meeting, MOA and the musicians agreed to go forward with a joint independent financial analysis (among other things which have not been achieved). For awhile, it looked like they would finally be working together and moving forward with the financial analysis. But then, they couldn't agree on who would do the analysis. Maybe they could have two firms working in tandem. Then, the MOA decided that they didn't want everything included in an analysis to be done, specifically comparisons to other orchestras, the Board's competency, the executive management's competency, the viability of fundraising, and of artistic initiatives, and anything else that involved how the Board conducts business. This surprised me a bit. After all, it's not as if they haven't known for months what was included in a financial analysis. Why object now? But as a result of the MOA's objection and pulling out from a joint financial analysis, the musicians will continue with theirs, giving the MOA an opportunity to reject the analysis because they didn't agree to what would be included or to the musicians' accounting firm. It sounds to me like the MOA just wanted someone else to do another audit, which they really don't need because the Legislative Auditor with the State will be doing that.
Now, please keep in mind that according to the MOA, all of their actions are and effort to do everything possible to move negotiations forward. How's that? But that's what they have said repeatedly to the public, to donors and patrons.
When someone says he'll do something then doesn't do it, he's untrustworthy. Someone who consistently does what he says he'll do is trustworthy. The MOA has shown itself to be untrustworthy. Why would anyone want to negotiate with an organization's management when they have demonstrated that they will say whatever they think you want to hear but not do anything they say they'll do? This is the situation the musicians find themselves in at the moment.
The MOA's untrustworthiness is but one reason they are being vilified. I personally would like an accounting of how many people on the Board genuinely have a passion for classical music and attend as many classical music concerts as they can. Then I would like to know how many bought their seats on the MOA Board in order to spiff up their resumes under the section on community service. Then I would like to know if they don't love classical music, what do they love? Any art form? Or just money and prestige.....
For more detailed information on this labor contract dispute, check out the following websites:
The Minnesota Orchestra -- for the MOA's official statements
Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra -- for the Musicians' updates
Song of the Lark -- an excellent resource
Adaptistration -- Drew McManus has a keen eye for arts administration