Negotiators representing both sides in the Utah Symphony strike conferred Monday in an effort to break the deadlock that has already forced the cancellation of four concerts. But spokesmen conceded little headway has been made.
Monday, the musicians voted 74-7 to reject the management's latest offer - a reiteration of the compromise proposal approved by the symphony board a week earlier. At that time, the players had approved a counter offer to be made to management without taking a formal vote on the board's proposal.The board's executive committee then rejected the players' counter offer, stating it stood by its latest proposal.
In that proposal, management offered to relent on its request for reductions in both the length of the season and the size of the orchestra if the musicians would agree to a 3.7 percent salary cut the first year, to be followed by increases of 5.7 percent and 5 percent the second and third years.
In response, the musicians asked for a 16 percent pay increase over three years, beginning with a wage freeze in 1988-89, but also involving broadcast and recording-fee guarantees the management of the orchestra says would increase the ante by more than $100,000 a year.
"We had hoped we would get more of a response than that," board chairman Deedee Corradini said after Monday's vote.
Following an afternoon meeting of management negotiators, executive director Paul R. Chummers said the board was willing to provide "amplification" on various aspects of its offer, such as a provision whereby the players would receive more money should the board be more successful in its fund-raising efforts.
But he emphasized this was "definitely not a new proposal."
"We've tried to be consistent throughout this process in terms of what we can do, only they don't believe us," Chummers added. "That's what this strike is all about. Maybe the next step is to say this is a final offer."
"I guess they expect us to keep responding until we get it right," said musicians'negotiator John Thompson.
Over the weekend, Thompson charged the management with trying to "punish us for going on strike. As someone on their side said, as long as we're out walking around, they're saving money." He conceded that the strike, which began Sept. 1, has already hurt musicians financially and taken a toll on morale.
Corradini denied the board is deliberately prolonging the strike. "That's absolutely false," she said. "We are very anxious to get things back on the track. We have no reason to punish anybody. We're just trying to make sound business decisions over the long term."
Chummers said should the strike be resolved in time, the plan is to reschedule the opening concerts, canceled last week, in place of the chamber programs set for Friday in Ogden and Saturday in Salt Lake City.