As just about everyone who has been following Orchestral Apocalypse ’012-’013 knows, the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives held a hearing on January 23rd in St. Paul to explore the impact of lockouts on our community. Everyone who was anyone was there: Minnesota Orchestral Association CEO Michael Henson! (this was a surprise; no one was expecting him) – Doug Wright from the musicians’ negotiating committee! – Carol Mason Smith representing the SPCO musicians! – representatives of Save Our SPCO! – representatives of Orchestrate Excellence! – heck, even Dobby was there! (although, rather bewilderingly, he chose to attend but apparently not to testify…? Odd.)
You can listen to and/or download the mp3 of the hearing here. Perhaps ironically for a musician, I absorb things better when I read them opposed to when I hear them, so I prepared a transcript of everyone’s remarks. I’m a fast typist and I had some spare time, so…yeah. I will devote one entry to each person’s testimony. I’m also planning a couple of entries devoted to analyzing what was all said (particularly by Mr. Henson), but those will come separately and later.
Rep. Joe Atkins, the chair of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, began the meeting with the following words.
Folks, we’ll call this meeting of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee to order. Thank you for coming. In Minnesota, as well as across the country, we’ve seen something akin to a flu epidemic, with the number of employee lockouts that have been occurring. It used to be a relatively infrequent occurrence. Now it seems to be becoming more and more frequent. So we’re going to learn a little bit about those. We’ve got literally in Minnesota right now four that I’m aware of, perhaps more, in which entities – businesses that have promised economic activity and jobs in exchange for public tax dollars have done that, then the next…not long after in some cases, have engaged in lockout activities that have jeopardized jobs and economic activity. My purpose in holding this hearing today is to get a little bit more complete picture – I know of at least two potential pieces of legislation, but before those are introduced or make any move forward, the aim being to prevent or discourage lockout behavior. Before that happens I thought it might benefit us to have a more complete picture of what’s going on. We don’t have – as the various folks around the table know – the Commerce Committee doesn’t have rules; we just try to treat each other in a nice fashion, and employ the golden rule, but I would ask, if you’ve got signs that are in people’s way, that you place those signs down. If you’ve got coats on chairs, we’ve obviously got some folks that are unable to find seats at this point. If you’ve got a coat that’s sitting in a chair that’s preventing somebody from sitting down, if you can place that under your seat or in your lap and just try to be respectful of others in the room. With that, I believe that Mayor Coleman is going to join us shortly. He’s got a meeting that he’s on his way from, but we’ve got some folks here to testify relative to that.