Negotiators representing striking Utah Symphony musicians and the orchestra management met Wednesday, but the outcome offered little hope for an early settlement of the weeklong work stoppage.
According to violinist Don Kramer, a member of the union negotiating team, some progress was made in the area of working conditions. Otherwise, he said, "management appeared unprepared and unwilling to respond to our revised economic proposal, which we had given them Tuesday. I have to say we find that very disappointing."Kramer said it was unlikely negotiators would meet again before Friday or Saturday.
Former Utah Gov. Calvin L. Rampton, heading the management team, agreed there had been progress in what he called non-financial areas.
"They gave on some and we gave on some," he said. But he said he would have to meet with the symphony's board of directors before the salary proposals could be addressed, "and they don't meet until Monday."
"Actually," he said, "their proposal was not much different than their former proposal. The categories were different, but it still amounted to about a 40 percent increase over three years, and we can't meet that."
Earlier in the day each team met informally with music director Joseph Silverstein. Initially Silverstein had asked both sides to meet with him simultaneously, but Rampton suggested that should be reserved for formal negotiations.
"All in all, I think his presence was very helpful," Rampton observed. "What he mostly said was, `Please keep tempers down and negotiate this. I want to see this orchestra playing again.' "
At the same time, he impressed the musicians as being sympathetic to their reaction to the cutbacks the board has proposed.
Speaking later, Silverstein refused to take sides in the dispute but confessed himself "deeply disappointed and very much saddened" by the turn of events. "I had really been looking forward to this season," he said, citing some of the pieces he was planning to do with the orchestra, such as the Schumann "Spring" Symphony and the Schubert Ninth.
"I hope we don't miss out on any of that."
The opening concerts of the 1988-89 subscription season are to take place Sept. 16-17, with a Sept. 15 performance scheduled the same week at Brigham Young University. Silverstein conceded those dates may now be endangered, as are the symphony's participation in the season openers for Ballet West and Utah Opera. Already the management has announced the cancellation of Friday's benefit concert with the Sundance Institute and earlier this week the ballet began auditions for a substitute orchestra.
Symphony executive director Paul R. Chummers estimated the loss in revenue from the Sundance concert as somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000, half of which would have gone to the orchestra. The musicians said they, too, regretted the cancellation, but they maintained that agreeing to play the concert without a contract would have compromised their position.
"We're not saying they need to bring us all the way up to the level other orchestras are at," Kramer said. "What we're saying is that, even with their proposed cuts, projections still show a deficit and further invasion of the endowment corpus, which still leaves them on a downward slide.
"What it boils down to is this board and this community are going to have to decide whether they want a world-class orchestra or not. If so, they're going to have to decide if they're going to fund it. If not, we're going to have to address that fact right now."