Chicago Symphony Orchestra on strike
Chicago, IL, United States (4E) – The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra went on strike and did not play for a concert on Saturday night after the expiry of their contract, despite appearing on the Thursday and Friday night shows.
The concert showcasing the performances of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 5 and Ottorino Respighi’s Feste Romane was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at the Symphony Center.
The biggest issue is about healthcare to which the management demanded an increase of 5% to 12% to the musicians contributions to their health insurance.
It was reported that the union asked for an increase in payroll to enable them to pay for the additional financial burden. But the management refused because the orchestra’s musicians were already among the best-paid in the country.
The president of the association, Deborah Rutter, said that the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is extremely disappointed that the musicians have decided to strike. She added that the more prudent path would be to work with us to ensure their future, rather than engage in this action.
According to the chairman of the Orchestra Members Committee, bassist Stephen Lester, the group has been negotiating several time but they were being coerced into accepting a contract with reduced benefits that would make it difficult for the orchestra to pay for health care and keep their basic standard of life.
Rutter said that CSO revenues are growing at small percentages every year, while expenses, including musicians’ salaries and benefits, continuously grow at an abrupt rate.
CSO officials reported that the previous collective bargaining agreement that expired in September 16 has increased the musicians minimum pay to $144,820 a year.
Officials said ticketholders can exchange their tickets for a future CSO performance, donate their tickets, or request a refund through the Symphony Center box office at 312-294-3000.
The Chicago Federation of Musicians Local 10-208 held their last strike in 1991 after the prosperous early 2000s ended, affecting the finances of many major art agencies.