Chicago Symphony musicians vote to authorize strike over pension, healthcare, and salary

Posted on: February 15, 2019

“Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians voted on Wednesday evening to authorize a strike that would begin on March 10, if contract negotiations are not resolved,” writes Howard Reich in Thursday’s (2/14) Chicago Tribune. “Those discussions have been ongoing for more than 11 months, according to the musicians.… ‘This is a decision that was not taken lightly,’ said Stephen Lester, chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee and a longtime CSO bassist…. At issue are pension, health care and salary… Said Lester, ‘We’d like to maintain the pension plan we’ve had for almost 50 years, which is a defined benefit plan.’ … Regarding health care, ‘They’ve asked for concessions,’ said Lester, referring to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. ‘They’ve received concessions over the last four or five contracts.’… Regarding salary, ‘We’ve seen our salary fall relative to other front-line orchestras,’ said Lester.” Said CSO representative Eileen Chambers, “We are in contract negotiations and are working in good faith with union representatives to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and the Chicago Federation of Musicians have a long-standing partnership that we value and honor during the contract negotiation process.’ ”

Posted February 15, 2019

In photo: On Feb. 14 at Symphony Center, Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians and union representatives announced that CSO musicians voted to authorize a strike. Photo: Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune