CSO musicians ratify contract deal to end strike; management’s vote awaits

on Apr27
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2019-04-27 17:02:52

Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians voted on Saturday to ratify a contract deal following their seven-week strike.

The agreement is expected to officially send them back to work once members of the orchestra’s board of trustees vote on the deal Saturday evening.

The musicians declared “victory” with the five-year deal that they say includes a salary increase of more than 13 percent and guaranteed minimum retirement benefit protections.

It also keeps the muscians’ health benefit costs at level “and commits the parties to study options for providing retirement security for new hires,” they said.

“The musicians voted overwhelmingly for a fair and competitive compensation and retirement benefit plan that will ensure the excellence and sustainability of one of the finest orchestras in the world,” bassist and negotiating chairman Steve Lester said in a statement.

The musicians thanked Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who brought both sides to his City Hall office to help broker the deal that was struck in principle Friday evening.

“I want to thank the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and the world-class musicians who make up the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for coming to the table and negotiating in good faith towards an agreement to end the strike,” Emanuel said in a Saturday statement. “This is a fair deal for the Symphony and its musicians, and a great deal for the future of one of our city’s greatest cultural institutions.”

Pressure had been mounting to land a deal ahead of an important series of subscription concerts helmed by acclaimed Music Director Riccardo Muti that is due to begin May 2.

The musicians said they’ll play their previously scheduled three free public concerts in their “From the Heart of the Orchestra” series. First-come, first-served tickets are available for the April 30 show at Steinmetz College Prep and May 3 at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

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