CSO musicians approve new contract; goes to board of trustees tonight

Sat Apr 27, 2019 at 3:55 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

The striking musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra voted unanimously Saturday to ratify a new five-year contract brokered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in negotiations at City Hall on Friday.  That contract will now be voted on by the CSO Association board of trustees Saturday evening.

“We are victorious,” claimed Steve Lester, chair of the musicians negotiating committee in a statement released by the union’s PR firm.

The contract calls for a wage increase of 13.25% over five years.  Without offering specifics, the union claims that the contract “protects their guaranteed retirement benefits,” and hints that management caved on its central demand of switching CSO players from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.

The union’s statement says that “the new agreement preserves guaranteed minimum retirement benefits for current musicians” and only requires the sides “to study options” for new players to be hired in the future.

A CSO spokeswoman said that the statement put out by the union was misleading and “incomplete.” An official response from CSOA is pending.

Check back for updates.

Posted in News

2 Responses to “CSO musicians approve new contract; goes to board of trustees tonight”

  1. Posted Apr 27, 2019 at 5:06 pm by Frederic

    Not sure why Lester feels the need to crow about this, particularly before the board has even ratified the contract. The musicians’ professionalism has left something to be desired throughout this saga, in my view. Oh well, here’s hoping this is all behind us by the end of the night.

  2. Posted Apr 27, 2019 at 6:40 pm by Anne-Marie

    I’ve avoided commenting negatively on the seven-week strike but through this whole ordeal I have felt, as one of numerous loyal and long-time subscribers, that the forgotten element in all these nasty negotiations are the subscribers.

    We sacrifice much, especially those music lovers who are on fixed income, to renew our subscription year after year but it seemed that the musicians gave us not a whit of credit in the monetary tug of war. Frederic made a good and valid point.

    What rankled particularly was the cancellation of outside artists, such as the farewell tour of Michael Tilson Thomas with the San Francisco Symphony. Allowing these artists to continue with their scheduled performances would have shown goodwill.

    Frankly, I am ambivalent about renewing my 10-plus subscription. A feeling of negativity lingers and it will take time to rebuild patron confidence after a strike that dragged on without a true sense of serving the general good.

Leave a Comment