Entertainment, Features, National

Chicago Symphony Strikers Reject ‘Final Offer’

April 14, 2019

By Steve Wishnia

Chicago Symphony Orchestra players are digging in their heels.

CHICAGO, Ill.—Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians voted Apr. 8 to reject what the orchestra’s management called its “last, best and final offer.” “We are extremely disappointed that management refuses to hear the musicians’ concerns about a secure retirement for the musicians and a secure future for the CSO,” bassist Steve Lester, chair of the Chicago Federation of Musicians’ negotiating committee, said in a statement. He told the Chicago Tribune that the vote was “overwhelming.” The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association said the contract it offered would have raised salaries by 11.5% over its five-year length. Lester dismissed that as “not even adequate to match inflation.” A more intractable issue in the walkout, which began March 11 and has forced the cancellation of all performances through April 23, is management’s demand to eliminate the musicians’ defined-benefit pension plan with a defined-contribution plan. Management offered to delay the change to 2020 or 2023, but CSOA President Jeff Alexander said it was “not possible” to retain defined benefits. Lester said he hoped the rest of the season wouldn’t be cancelled, but it was “an ideological issue” that the board was unwilling to offer younger players the retirement security it had provided longtime players.

Read more: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/reich/ct-ent-cso-strike-vote-0409-story.html

April 14, 2019

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