Chicago strike: the ice breaks

Message from the CSOA:

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) and the Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM) have mutually agreed to resume negotiations on a new contract for the members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) this Friday, April 5. 

The Association looks forward to reaching consensus on a new agreement.

We kinda told you so.

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  • Will be interesting to see who blinks first re the pension issue. Perhaps a compromise is in the offing. A two-tiered structure, with current orchestra members retaining their defined-benefit plan, while future hires are covered under a defined-contribution plan.


    • That actually would make a good compromise.
      The older musicians get what they were promised, the younger musicians start fresh with a defined contribution plan with some funds matched by the employer.

      There is enough talent in the US and around the world, that the CSO will still attract qualified players who will want the job.

      Philly restructured a few years ago in a way that was much more challenging than what is proposed in Chicago and they did not lose any talent in the process of doing so.

    • This is what the management was already offering before the strike began.

      In fact, the offer was even sweeter. All current members would retain whatever credits they have already accrued in the defined-benefit plan. (In fact, the CSOA is even offering to add 2% to any of the benefits already accrued.) They would then fund 7.5% of salaries to the new defined contribution plan to individual 403B accounts of every member of the orchestra, every year going forward without requiring any musician to contribute anything (as a standard matching program does), even for musicians already fully vested in the current Defined Benefits pension. So the people who have racked up any or all credits for the defined benefits plan up to now would still get this when they retire ON TOP of the 7.5%/year funding. Moreover, if there is any musician who retires in the next three years under an early retirement option that is available now that experiences a reduction in benefits as a result of the new plan, they will have the shortfall made up by the Association. Another point. Under the current defined benefits plan, once you have reached the 35 year point, the benefits don’t go up one penny no matter how much longer you work. Upon your death, your spouse (and ONLY your legal spouse) gets only 50% of what you collected. Under the proposed defined contribution plan, any heirs can inherit the entire accrued value of the funded amount that has accumulated until your death.

      The musicians have turned this offer down and characterized it to the public as the management doing great harm to the secure retirement of the musicians. YOU decide!

      • Agree with everything here—the current musicians wouldn’t be affected under the board’s offered proposal.

  • They’re caving.

    Mortgages are due and so are tuition payments to the private schools and gym memberships.

    • LOL. More “BMWs and gated communities” (public school teachers) and “lobster and filet mignon” (food assistance) talk. Very convincing.

    • Most of them probably have half a mil or more in the bank. I don’t think they are worried about going tits-up financially

  • Resumption of talks doesn’t necessarily mean an agreement is close. It might just be an occasion for both sides to “restate” their positions. But let’s hope it is more.

    • They should program some antiphonal music by Gabrieli.

      Orchestra on one side of Orchestra Hall. Management on the other.

      Muti in the middle, I suppose.

  • It’s news that they’re going to get together to negotiate? Though I guess NOT talking is a form of negotiation. Presumably both sides are armed with expert negotiators who have mapped each others’ interests, figured out their BATNAs, and know how to look for mutual gains. The problem with an orchestra strike is that unlike in a private company, management probably isn’t losing money, so the musicians’ leverage is probably more about image than finances.

  • . . . and don’t forget: they have their prize money from the San Francisco Symphony to keep them afloat for another half-day. Let’s see if they’d do the same if S.F. teachers went on strike.

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