CSO musicians end strike with new contract

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (A CSO photo)
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (A CSO photo)

After a seven-week strike, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s musicians  and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association’s board have agreed to a new five-year contract. The new agreement was ratified this weekend following negotiation sessions mediated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Retroactive to September 2018 and going through September 2023, the agreement covers working conditions, a 14 % wage increase over five years plus changing to a Defined Contribution Retirement Plan from a Defined Benefit Pension Plan.

“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has been a cultural treasure for this community for 128 years,” said CSOA Board of Trustees Chair Helen Zell.  “Our Trustees recognize and honor the exceptional artistry of the musicians. This new agreement reflects the excellence of the Orchestra and ensures that the musicians receive the outstanding compensation they deserve, while securing their and the CSOA’s long-term financial sustainability through the retirement plan transition,” said Zell.

Begun April 2018, negotiations between the association and the musicians’  had expired  March 10, 2019 after a 6-month extension.

The musicians were represented by Chicago Federation of Musicians Local 10-208 President Terryl Lynn Jares and legal counsel Robert E. Bloch of Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach & Yokich. The association was represented by legal counsel Marilyn Pearson of McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

The 2018/19 season, including a Symphony Center Presents Chamber Music concert with violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Evgeny Kissin, and the CSO subscription concerts conducted by Music Director Riccardo Muti, are resuming. For program details visit CSO.org.

Jodie Jacobs



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