Chicago latest: Both sides hurl bricks

The musicians say:
April 23, 2019 – (Chicago, IL) – A week after the Chicago Symphony Association reneged on its promise to negotiate by flatly rejecting the CSO Musicians compromise proposal, the CSO Musicians called today on the Association to negotiate in order to resolve the strike in time to preserve scheduled performances with Maestro Muti. He returns to Chicago next week for his May residency.

‘The Musicians remain committed to negotiating a contract that ensures the future of the Orchestra and is respectful to the desires of subscribers and donors while offering compromises that address the Association’s needs,’ said Steve Lester, bassist and Chair of the CSO Musicians negotiation committee. Besides calling on the Association to negotiate in order to resolve the strike, the CSO Musicians illustrated that their compromise pension plan and 10% increase in salary over three years would not cost the Association any more money than their own proposal. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the same amount of money being offered by the Association is enough to fully fund the Musicians current defined benefits plan and provide all the necessary funds to go into a defined-contribution plan.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association responds:
‘It is unfortunate that Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM) did not contact the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) to resume scheduling negotiating sessions prior to their publicity event this morning. There is an agreed upon scheduling process through either the federal mediator or the attorneys directly and the Association has not been contacted since our last negotiating session on April 16. Negotiations and meeting scheduling do not occur at a press conference. The union’s suggestion that the Association is unwilling to negotiate is false. The Association has been, and remains open to return to the negotiating table. This is where both parties can consider genuine proposals to respectfully reach consensus on a new contract. ‘

 

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  • From article above: “the CSO Musicians illustrated that their compromise pension plan and 10% increase in salary over three years would not cost the Association any more money than their own proposal.” So why not just give the union that money and let the union fund/manage the db plan? Of course it’s more complicated than that, but one has to wonder if there isn’t some creative arrangement that would allow both sides to save face, give everybody what they want, and everybody gets back to work.

    • Would you trust a union with your dp plan (whatever that stands for – I assume pension)? Maybe so. One further point: “getting back to work in time for Maestro Muti’s return”, hardly seems a selling point in terms of tipping public opinion.

    • “…one has to wonder if there isn’t some creative arrangement that would allow both sides to save face, give everybody what they want, and everybody gets back to work.”

      Surely there is, whether it’s your idea or some other. But at this point I don’t think that’s the goal — certainly not on the management’s side, at least.

    • The musicians are hoping Muti will provide some leverage to resolve the impasse. Not likely. This script has been seen before: Muti arrives, Muti huffs and puffs, Muti takes a photo with the musicians, Muti goes home. Strike continues. He should be careful: if he threatens to resign if the strike doesn’t end immediately, the CSO might just take him up on his offer.

      The players would be well to keep in mind that, eventually, they will go back to work. And they will work for the very same people they are vilifying with hyperbolic language while making outrageous, false claims. Note that the CSO management does not call the players names or engage in heated, ad hominem personal attacks. Remember: what goes around comes around.

    • Personally, having seen how they treated my father during his 37 years as a member, I wouldn’t trust Local 10 to manage a two-car funeral.

      But you make an interesting point about finding some other creative solution. Surely there are some top flight money managers who are CSO trustees or fans who can figure out how give these musicians what they deserve while placating management.

      • As as a member of 10-208, with my dues horribly out of date, I agree that this is not an organization to be trusted to manage finances,

        • p.s. DirtLawyer’s father must have been in local 10 many years ago. Local 10 (the white AFM local) and local 208 (the black AFM local) merged in 1966, three years before I joined local 10-208.

          • I’ve always (inaccurately) called it Local 10 instead of 10-208, but yes, dad joined the local well before 1966; he eventually transferred in disgust to Local 37 since we lived within its boundaries.

  • there’s a chance that this board simply does not care at all.
    It’s the same as signing with a major record label and then getting awful treatment. You’re under contract so you can’t quit. A friend of mine had his music shelved for three years. Meaning, he couldn’t tour nor make another record. The label just didn’t care. Another friend was with anilows agent, you know that famous singer, I can’t even write his name because he has google alerts and lawyers so add an M to the above word. His boyfriend headed the agency and was the biggest tool you could ever imagine. When one of the agents wanted to leave all hell broke loose; he stole websites, changed passwords, sent out lawyers to no avail.
    Just wreaking havoc. He had all the money in the world but was this petty. My point? They want to cut these musicians down otherwise they would work with them not against them. There is zero creativity happening from this board. These poor musicians got a bad board, it’s that simple. They look down on musicians and those childish letters to Jeff didn’t help. I just see this going very badly only because I know people like this and they hate musicians. Hate that they get to make music for a living. Hate that they don’t have to deal with regular life like 9-5ers. So they are cutting you down. I hope I am wrong.

    • You’re dead wrong; what an asinine post. Let me assure you that anyone on the
      Board indeed is a music lover (not hater) and has no desire to cut down the musicians just because they’re jealous of their talent. Here’s to hoping the contract is resolved ASAP and the music starts up again in full force…

  • What strikes me about this story is this line: “…Maestro Muti. He returns to Chicago next week for his May residency.”

    How grand of him. And for an institution that claims it has no money, why are they paying him so much and why is he gone from the city so much of the time? Couldn’t significant costs be reduced by hiring someone who was really there all the time and who was cheaper (and younger)?

    Perhaps the “star system” is behind this whole problem?

    At the very least, this two-sided approach seems hypocritical.

    • While he is a star by today’s standards, Yannick is a case in point in that when he is not in Philadelphia, he’s going to usually be in New York. That enables him to do things like filling in for two out of three performances of this week’s program after Chung cancelled on short notice. I also don’t think Yannick’s Philadelphia salary is in the same ball-park as Muti’s in Chicago, although I’m not certain of that.

      • I think Yannick gets it. You have to be around to be a good music director. You need to lead, raise funds, and hear your orchestra out in the hall when guest conductors come.

        The commute to NYC for the MET is an easy one and on the same time zone so he can be within reach and put out fires.

        This is the old school approach to being a music director and it’s what many American orchestras need right now.

        Not some fly by night carpet bagger who comes in to collect the check, lead the orchestra on tour and go home to Europe.

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