Chicago’s Lyric Opera Orchestra threatens strike

Posted on: December 3, 2009

In Thursday’s (12/3) Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein reports, “The Chicago Federation of Musicians and the committee representing the 76 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra said Wednesday they will strike the opening performance of Lehar’s ‘The Merry Widow’ if a new labor agreement is not reached by curtain time Saturday night. ‘Contract negotiations are stalled despite recent negotiating sessions and the assistance of a federal mediator,’ said cellist William Cernota, chair of the members committee, in a statement. ‘We’ve offered meaningful concessions for the first years of a multiyear contract but want Lyric to compensate us for those concessions in the latter contract years.’ … The orchestra has been performing without a contract since mid-September. The previous labor agreement expired April 30. … Said Lyric General Director William Mason. ‘We cannot agree to a contract we cannot afford. It’s not responsible to anybody—the employees, donors, ticket buyers and people who support this company.’ … The Lyric has been hit by the recession. Current subscription sales are down about 13 percent from last year, while the company’s endowment suffered a 29 percent loss in 2008 because of stock market losses, said Susan Mathieson Mayer, Lyric director of communications.”

Posted December 3, 2009