Sept 23 Musicians at the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra went on strike after failing to reach an agreement on
wages and healthcare benefits, prompting the cancellation of a
Saturday night concert, the association that runs the orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association said in a
statement that the union representing the 109-member orchestra
had rejected a three-year contract that would have raised the
weekly $2,785 base salary to $2,795 in the first year, $2,835
the second year and $2,910 the third year.
The association also proposed raising musicians'
contributions to their healthcare costs to 12 percent from 5
percent under the last contract. Musician negotiators said that
would have more than wiped out the proposed wage increase,
cutting compensation overall.
Deborah Rutter, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Association, said it was committed to reaching a fair agreement
with the musicians but must manage its finances carefully to
avoid the large deficits and bankruptcies faced by other U.S.
orchestras in recent years.
"The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is extremely
disappointed that the musicians have decided to strike," Rutter
said in a statement. "Looking around the country, it's clear
that the more prudent path would be to work with us to ensure
their future, rather than engage in this action."
Bassist Stephen Lester, chairman of the Orchestra Members
Committee that is negotiating for the musicians, denied that the
musicians had walked out on the bargaining.
"We remain anxious to conclude an agreement with the
association, and we regret very much that this has affected
concerts for the public and for our music director, Maestro
(Riccardo) Muti, and we hope that the situation can be resolved
soon," the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying.
The orchestra's contract expired on Sept. 16, but concerts
took place as scheduled on Thursday and Friday. The symphony
association said only the Saturday night concert had been
canceled, for now. The next scheduled performance is Wednesday
(Reporting by Jane Sutton; editing by Philip Barbara)