No Mediation In The St. Louis Standoff

According to a recent press release from the SLSO musicians, their recent offer of allowing a mediator to help settle their negotiation impasse was rejected by the SLSO management.  According to a statement included in the press release, Jan Gippo, chair of the SLSO musicians’ negotiating team, said,

“We thought mediation would be worth a try to break the logjam we’re in and don’t understand why Randy [Adams] (SLSO president) would reject it out of hand.  Our two proposals are not that far apart.  Doesn’t he want a settlement?”

According to Jeff Trammel, Director of Communications for the SLSO, the management is amiable to having a mediator come in to help get the negotiations back on track,

“[The SLSO management] is open to the idea of mediation, but Randy Adams rejected the idea of using Mr. Peter Pastreich as a mediator because of his former position here as SLSO President and his association with one of the musicians lawyers [Leonard Leibowitz].”

When asked to expand on the problems Mr. Adams had with the perceived association between Mr. Pastreich and Mr. Leibowitz, Mr. Trammel declined to comment.

Whether or not the SLSO plans to propose a mediator they find acceptable is unknown.  According to Jeff,

“Although it is an option we’re considering, specific names haven’t been discussed.”

Several of the recently completed big budget orchestra negotiations in recent years were all settled with the help of a third party mediator.  Most notably, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit all used mediators to great success.

In Detroit, Peter Pastreich played a pivotal role in helping that organization avoid a financial meltdown as well as improving some of the musician/management relations.  Both board members and musicians from the Detroit Symphony have publicly expressed their appreciation for his efforts in helping mediate their settlement.

The absence of music in Powell Hall continues as the scheduled concerts for February 3rd and 4th have been cancelled. With one side rejecting an initial offer of mediation while simultaneously not presenting any suggestions of their own only points toward more of the same in St. Louis; less classical music.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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