Chicago Symphony Orchestra Musicians Go On Strike

Bernie Tafoya
March 11, 2019 - 7:56 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — There is silence at the Symphony Center, as musicians for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have gone on strike.

Contract talks broke down Sunday night between musicians and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians last went on strike in 2012 for six days and on Monday morning, beginning at 8 a.m. they will be walking the picket line on Michigan Avenue. They walked out after completing a Sunday afternoon concert and negotiating all evening.

Steve Lester, bassist and chair of the musicians' negotiating committee, is one of the striking musicians. He said the Orchestra is disappointed it has come to a walk out.

"We are very, very disappointed that Maestro Muti, who comes this week to conduct concerts, will not be able to conduct, but he has expressed his support for the musicians," Lester said. 

The CSO Association said pay and pension are the negotiating sticking points. 

Lester said the negotiating committee said they "have been clear from the beginning that we will not accept a contract that diminishes the well-being of members or imperils the future of the orchestra."

The contract expired Sept. 17, 2018, and was extended to March 10.

The CSO Association tells patrons its musicians enjoy one of the best contracts in the world of symphonic music.

So far no concerts have been canceled. The next CSO concert is scheduled for Thursday.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently rated as one of the top five orchestras in the world and the top orchestra in the United States.