Lyric Opera shows Chicago Symphony how to cut a deal

Chicago’s Lyric Opera reached a new agreement with its orchestra this weekend ‘without a single negative word appearing in media’ from either side, according to a satisfied negotiator.

The Chicago Symphony,  meanwhile, is out of contract and rumbling.

 

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  • The CSO routinely has their contract negotiations going down to the wire or beyond, and a brief strike is not unknown. They have an interesting culture in that orchestra; it’s hard to find a group, in my experience, more focused and intensely engaged when they play – brilliantly. But they also want to be paid, and, great artists that they are, they have a long history of being militant in their labor relations and will shut it down if it will improve their negotiating leverage.

    A key difference with Lyric Opera is that while an opera orchestra, in theory, has more leverage than a symphony orchestra precisely because it is secondary – but essential – part of the show, nobody in Lyric Opera’s orchestra, fine as it surely is, is going to argue that they’re the best orchestra in the world and should be paid accordingly.

    • It’s also a matter of keeping salaries competitive with the others close to the top, like LA Phil. Last time I believe health care costs rising were the sticking point, but CSO at least for a while was able to boast the highest base salary. The cost of living in the Chicago is also a factor, and reason to get the best deal they can.
      Other orchestras whose CBA’s are up include Philly, Cleveland, Dallas, etc. Hopefully they all get the best deals they can without strikes, lockouts, etc.

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