Chicago Symphony musicians go on strike

September 23, 2012

Greta Johnsen and The Associated Press

(The Associated Press)
The CSO had to cancel last weekend's performance at the Symphony Center.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians are continuing their strike Monday, and contract talks have yet to be scheduled. 

CSO musicians went on strike Saturday after rejecting a new three-year contract. Musicians say they aren’t paid enough and are being asked to pay too much toward health insurance. The contract would have provided musicians with a minimum base weekly salary of $2,795 in the first year, $2,835 in the second and $2,910 in the third, according to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. The previous weekly base minimum salary is $2,785.  

The new contract would also have increased employee contribution to health insurance costs from 5 percent to 12 percent, a level which musicians say is too high.

"The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is really dedicated to sustaining a fantastic orchestra performing at the highest level artistically," said Deborah Rutter, president of the CSO Association.  "In order to ensure its long term future, we want to make sure that we are managing our fiscal house as well as our artistic efforts."


The previous collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight Sept. 16, the Orchestra Association said.

Musicians and management had previously agreed to start the 2012-2013 season this week while contract negotiations that started this summer continued. But a symphony performance scheduled for Saturday had to be canceled last-minute because of the musicians’ strike.

Both sides have said the most important thing is to avoid cancelling more shows. The next CSO performance is scheduled for Wednesday.