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Granholm, Levin outline possible Detroit Symphony Orchestra compromise

Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Jennifer Guerra
Michigan Radio
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since October 4

Update 8:01 p.m.:

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management issued this statement in response to the joint letter issued earlier today by Governor Granholm and Senator Levin:

We appreciate Senator Levin and Governor Granholm’s commitment to the DSO and their personal time and effort to assist in finding a resolution to the ongoing dispute between the DSO and its musicians. We take their recommendations very seriously. A $36 million compensation package is beyond what every consultant and our Board have said is feasible. In order to fund our current proposal, we have already cut our staff and operations severely and pushed our revenue expectations beyond every advisor’s recommendations. Even with these dramatic cuts and ambitious goals, the DSO will continue to operate in a deficit position. We all want and need this strike to end with a mutually acceptable package and we stand ready to return to the bargaining table to pursue an agreement. We appreciate the constructive offer of a framework within which this agreement might be reached and look forward to the continued engagement and support of community leadership as we pursue our goals.

6:03 p.m.:

Governor Jennifer Granholmand U.S. Senator Carl Levin issued a joint letter Thursday detailing the framework for a possible resolution between Detroit Symphony Orchestra management and its musicians.

The DSO musicians went on strike Oct. 4 after management demanded a slew of concessions to deal with its growing deficit. The DSO recently announced a $8.8 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year.

Granholm and Levin's proposal called for a 3-year deal that would cost a total of $36 million. (Management's most recent proposal totaled $34 million, the musicians countered with a roughly $38 million proposal.) 

Andy Levin is the Governor’s representative. He says both Granholm and Sen. Levin hoped that they "could get the parties across the finish line to a collective bargaining agreement  by making a suggestion about a difficult compromise."

Haden McKay, a cellist with the DSO, says the letter from Granholm and Levin is a step in the right direction:

"Well, it doesn’t spell out exactly what a contract would look like, but it does give a figure for how much the contract should cost. It’s definitely lower than any of our proposals have been, so it would require further pay cuts from us, but we think it’s something we can work with."

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra Musicians’ Negotiating Committee issued this statement in response to the letter by the two politicians:  

We welcome the interest and energy which Governor Granholm and Senator Levin have given to seeking an end to the current labor dispute at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Senator Levin and the Governor's representative, Andrew Levin, have devoted many hours to meeting with representatives from both sides and to studying their proposals.
The musicians feel that the proposal the Governor and the Senator have put forward in today's letter provides a path to a fair resolution of this 11-week strike. We accept the proposal, and are prepared to return to the bargaining table immediately to seek a settlement under the framework it outlines. The $36 million figure will definitely require further difficult sacrifice from the musicians. Some contentious issues will remain to be worked out. However, we believe that with good will on both sides we can go forward under this framework to reach a contract that will preserve a DSO of which we can all continue to be proud.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra management hasn't issued a statement regarding Granholm and Levin's joint letter at the time of this writing.

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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