Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have agreed to a new contract, ending a strike that began on March 10.
The settlement follows the intervention of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The mayor, who is soon leaving office, convened a negotiating session on April 26; the next day, the players voted unanimously to ratify the new contract.
Under terms of the five-year pact, base pay for CSO musicians, already among the highest in the US, will rise to $181,272 in the final year.
The players’ pension plan, the most hotly disputed point in protracted and heated negotiations, will be gradually adjusted. The previous plan, under which the orchestra covered the full pension costs, will be replaced by a “defined contribution” plan into which currently employed musicians will pay 7.5 percent of their salaries, with the orchestra guaranteeing the same ultimate benefit level. Musicians who join the orchestra after July 1, 2020 will not get that guarantee.
The Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich reports on the settlement: