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Musicians Reject Arbitration, Extend New Offer

The Louisville Orchestra musicians have rejected an offer for binding arbitration, thereby turning down what orchestra management says was the final offer for a new contract.There have been final offers before, and this latest one came last week. The management said it would replace the musicians unless they agreed to binding arbitration. In that process, a third party would settle disagreements on the size of the orchestra and the season length, then both sides would be obligated to follow it.In their rejection, the musicians have extended their own offer. They're asking for an orchestra that could be slightly larger than management has requested and for an agreement that a working group could be formed to create a new business plan for the cash-strapped orchestra.The players have been without a contract since last May. Negotiations began about a year and half ago. The orchestra is on the musicians' union's “unfair list,” meaning any replacement players who are union members would risk possible career-ending fines and penalties for playing without a contract in place. Management is reviewing the musicians' offer and CEO Robert Birman says a formal response to the union is forthcoming.