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Here Are The Chicago Symphony Settlement Details You’re Looking For – Adaptistration

On Saturday, 4/27/2019 the board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) and the CSO musicians ratified a brand new five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The deal was reached shortly after outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel turned immediately involved. Let’s take an in depth take a look at the new terms to see what every stakeholder managed to secure.


In a nutshell: the employer scored an enormous win on this time period while the musicians walked away with nothing significant to point out on what was the centerpiece of their choice to strike.

Among the many gadgets that triggered the work stoppage, probably the most contentious was the CSOA’s proposal to switch the prevailing outlined profit (DB) pension plan with a defined contribution (DC) plan that provides lower dollar benefits and shifts the danger to staff.

In the long run, the employer secured the whole lot it was after. The outcome produces a brand new two-tier pension plan that gives incoming musician staff with a far much less equitable retirement plan in comparison with what present musician staff will obtain.

The only term musicians managed to include past what was proposed in the CSOA’s last, greatest, and remaining supply was a condition to conduct a research to determine if there is a method to offer a DC retirement benefit that is comparable with the DB worth. Here’s the direct language from that time period:

Per CSOA Complete Final Greatest and Remaining Supply of April 7, 2019, with the following modifications:

  1. Annual DC contribution by CSOA can be 7.5% of minimum scale.
  2. Investment Protection Annuity Conversion Function Index:
    Starting July 1, 2023, solely for the aim of determining the Investment Protection Annuity Conversion Function as outlined in the CSOA Complete Last Greatest and Remaining Supply dated April 7, 2019, in an effort to calculate the hypothetical DB benefit that a Member would have earned had the DB plan not been frozen, the annual accrual for July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024 shall be $2,314 and shall be presumed to extend by 1 % (one %) for each future Plan Yr for each Yr of Participation earned in that Plan Yr (i.e. a “annual accumulated accrual” benefit). A Participant’s hypothetical DB profit can be equal to the sum of the annual accruals for each Plan Yr for which they might have earned a Yr of Participation had the DB plan not been frozen.
  3. An unbiased evaluation of the DB pension investments shall be carried out.
  4. CSOA and CSO representatives shall research choices for providing retirement safety for musicians hired after the freeze of the DB plan. The joint committee will report on the result of their research to the President of the CSOA and the CFM not later than one yr after ratification of the Agreement.

Whereas the CSOA agreed to a yr lengthy research, there are not any assurances that something within the new two-tier pension construction should change. At greatest, the research will produce suggestions, but nothing extra.

If the musicians are displeased with the report or how the CSOA responds, they gained’t be capable of leverage any strain for an additional 4 years, when the newly ratified CBA expires.

The musicians have offered what could also be greatest defined as combined messages with the result of latest pension terms.

In a press assertion from four/27/2019 saying the ratification vote, the musicians painted the pension terms in a positive mild, going so far as to “declare victory” in the assertion’s title.

Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Declare Victory and Vote to Return to Work

The new settlement preserves guaranteed minimal retirement advantages for current musicians and commits the parties to review options for offering retirement security for brand spanking new hires.

“After about a year of negotiations we are victorious in our efforts by protecting and maintaining our secure retirement and gaining lost ground on our annual salaries,” stated Steve Lester, bassist and Chair of the Musicians Negotiating Committee. “The Musicians voted overwhelming for a fair and competitive compensation and retirement benefit plan that will ensure the excellence and sustainability of one of the finest orchestra’s in the world.”

Nevertheless, in an interview revealed within the four/27/2019 version of the Chicago Tribune, the identical musician spokesperson adopted a unique strategy. One key aspect from the spokesperson’s comments is his declaration that converting from the DB to the DC plan could have a detrimental influence on inventive high quality.

New hires to the CSO will probably be positioned within the new [DC] plan, leaving veteran gamers and newcomers in differing pension plans. Each side have agreed to satisfy in the course of the subsequent yr “to figure out a plan that would somehow deal with the question of equitability,” stated…Lester.

“What we didn’t get is the accommodation of new hires,” which means profitable retirement advantages for them which might be just like what the veterans have had.

“That is absolutely essential to the quality of the orchestra,” added Lester. “We have a year to explain to our trustees why that is so important. And explain it in an atmosphere that isn’t charged with a strike.”

It’s protected to assume the musicians hung out through the pre-strike negotiations to elucidate those very points.

Consequently, why anybody should anticipate an entire reversal in position among the many CSOA trustees now that they’ve secured what they outline as “create[ing] long-term stability for the organization” is a mystery.

Annual Wage

In a nutshell: the musicians managed to safe a small improve over the CSOA’s final, greatest, and ultimate supply that maintains inner wage developments, but does not reach their desired objective of parity with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) and San Francisco Symphony (SFS).

Whereas the musicians have never made clear actual dollar amounts for his or her base musician annual wage demands, they typically referenced sustaining parity with their peers in the LA Phil and SFS.

That is one term where the CSO musicians managed to secure a modicum of improvements over the CSOA’s last, greatest, and ultimate supply.

Final, greatest, and remaining supply (% improve and minimum annual wage):

  • 18/19: 2.0%, $162,188
  • 19/20: 2.0%, $165,464
  • 20/21:, $168,740
  • 21/22: 2.5%, $172,952
  • 22/23: 3.0%, $178,152

Ratified Settlement (% improve and minimal annual salary):

  • 18/19: 2.0%, $162,188
  • 19/20:, $165,464
  • 20/21: 2.5%, $169,624
  • 21/22: three.25%, $175,136*
  • 22/23: three.5%, $181,272*

*Ancillary payments don’t improve in these contract years.

At the time this text was revealed, the musicians have yet to answer requests for readability on what those ancillary funds embody and/or their respective dollar values. It might embrace something alongside the strains of the Electronic Music Assure, but in the long run, this amount might impression the apples to apples comparability with the LA Phil and SFS.

In his interview with the Tribune, musician representative Stephen Lester was quoted saying the modifications in base pay prevents the minimal annual wage hole with LA and SF from rising and as soon as we’ve confirmed the ancillary cost merchandise, we’ll be capable of better gauge the accuracy of that assertion.

Presently, solely the LA Phil has an agreement of comparable length to use for comparison. And when using a simple linear trendline prolonged for three years previous the present CSO CBA expiration date, you possibly can see the CSO will need to keep charges of will increase that exceed averages from the past several years.

As of now, there isn’t a indication that the CSOA plans on sustaining that degree of progress.

As an alternative, it’s much more doubtless that the CSO will remain in a better competitive relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).

It’s necessary to level out the above charts only present competitiveness by way of base musician annual wage. However now that the CSO has adopted a two-tier pension plan the place new musicians stand a excessive diploma of probability of getting a much smaller pension greenback value, general competitiveness is a really totally different picture.

Assuming the BSO maintains their present DB plan, it’s truthful to imagine they’ll provide a far superior profession compensation package deal in comparison with Chicago.

And while we would wish to run the numbers to make sure, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the CSO’s closest career compensation package deal peer to be the New York Philharmonic and even the National Symphony Orchestra.

Whereas the latter two keep a lower base musician annual wage price, they do supply a DB pension plan.

Further “Return To Work” Phrases

The CSO musician term sheet offered for the aim of ratification included the following further gadgets distinctive to the work stoppage.

  • 2018 Wage improve: the first yr wage improve shall be retroactive to September 17. 2018, offered the brand new contract is ratified on or before April 28, 2019. Retroactive funds can be made within 45 days after the strike ends.
  • COBRA: Members who utilized for COBRA coverage and paid the premium for April shall be reimbursed for the pro rata share of the CSOA ‘s contribution towards the Member’s premium for the period of the profit month-to-month starting on the Members return to work.
  • Wages: Members will return to pay standing on the first day of work after the contract is ratified and the strike ends.
  • Vacation and sick depart accrual won’t be adjusted for the period of the strike.
  • Members who had a Released Week(s) scheduled through the strike will probably be given a makeup Launched Week(s) between the top or the strike and December 31, 2020. If a Member has not had the complete variety of contractually required Rotation Weeks between the top of the strike and the top of the 2018-19 Downtown Season, then that Member shall receive their remaining Rotation Weeks between the return to work and December 31. 2020. No Momentary Musicians will [be] employed to fulfill these Launch or Rotation Week necessities.
  • Pension Service Accrual: shall be governed by the Pension Plan, which offers for the accrual of service.
  • If a Member is unable to return to work because he/she has accepted short-term work with another orchestra that conflicts with CSO providers, the Member can be allowed depart with out pay for as much as three service weeks immediately following contract ratification and end of the strike.
  • All different open proposals are withdrawn.
  • All other modifications to the new contract can be efficient on the primary day of labor after contract ratification and end of the strike.

Substitute Musician Parity

At the time this text was revealed, one item that surfaced at the onset of the work stoppage that hasn’t been clearly defined by both stakeholder is substitute musician parity.

Originally, the musicians indicated the CSOA was proposing to pay substitutes much less on a per service foundation than full time members.

I’ve reached out to press representatives from each side within the dispute for clarification. As of the time this text was revealed, solely the CSOA has replied.

In accordance with CSOA Communications and Public Relations Officer, Eileen Chambers “per the terms of the new agreement, temporary or substitute musicians will be paid the same as regular musicians.”

Given the sensitivity of this concern, I additionally asked if any of the contract language related to substitute and short-term musician  was changed and in that case, what have been these modifications. At the time this text was revealed, that they had not but replied.

The musician representatives haven’t replied to inquires.

We’ll revisit this challenge and/or replace this article once they’ve responded.


While the musicians have been portray this settlement as a win of their press statements, the precise terms don’t help that position.

As it stands, the statement saying the successful ratification could possibly be construed as misleading on the result of a number of of their cornerstone issues. The opening paragraphs provide wonderful examples:

The Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) voted unanimously immediately to ratify a new five-year contract that includes a 13.25% improve in salary and protects their guaranteed retirement benefits[1], with no increases to the cost of musician health benefits.  The new agreement preserves guaranteed minimum retirement advantages for present musicians[2] and commits the events to review options for offering retirement security for brand spanking new hires[3].

“After about a year of negotiations we are victorious in our efforts by protecting and maintaining our secure retirement and gaining lost ground on our annual salaries[4],” stated Steve Lester, bassist and Chair of the Musicians Negotiating Committee. “The Musicians voted overwhelming for a fair and competitive compensation and retirement benefit plan that may ensure the excellence and sustainability of one of the best orchestra’s on the planet.[5] “

  1. Whereas technically accurate, it is deceptive in that it fails to differentiate the lower worth DC plan for all incoming musicians and potential lost worth for present musicians with just a few years of service.
  2. This is comparable smoke and mirrors phrasing.
  3. Whereas “retirement security” isn’t clearly outlined, the statement fails to acknowledge that the research carries no enforceable actions. Which means, regardless how the research unfolds or the recommendations it produces, the CSOA is underneath no obligation to do anything aside from acknowledge receipt.
  4. That’s about as much constructive spin as one can pack into a press release considering the musicians’ fell far in need of their demand for base musician compensation parity with the LA Phil and SFS.
  5. This instantly contradicts Lester’s statements to the Chicago Tribune. In that article, Lester makes it clear that with a view to keep the quality of the orchestra, the CSO will need equal pension plan advantages for all CSO musicians and that plan needs to be on par with peers in LA, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Nationwide. Whereas it’s not shocking to see the official press assertion take a stab at injury management, the precise settlement terms make it close to unattainable to reconcile credibility.

In the long run, the new five-year settlement is a transparent win for the employer.

Having stated that, it should come as no shock to see the CSO, as an institution, endure significantly in the wake of this work stoppage. Each stakeholders engaged in aggressive old-school gaslighting techniques and because the dust settles, they could discover their broader group help is way lower than before the work stoppage.

About Drew McManus

“I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired.” Those have been the first phrases out of an government’s mouth after her board chair introduced us. That government is now an expensive colleague and good friend but the day that consulting contract began together with her orchestra, she was satisfied I used to be a hatchet-man brought in by the board to wash house.

I understand the place the trepidation comes from as a substantial amount of my consulting and know-how supplier work for arts organizations includes due diligence, separating reality from fiction, deciphering spin, in addition to performance evaluation and oversight. So sure, typically that work leads to one or two people “aggressively embracing career change” but far most of the time, it reinforces and clarifies precisely what works and why.

Briefly, it doesn’t matter if you understand the place all the our bodies are buried in case you can’t hold your personal shoppers out of the ground, and I’m lucky sufficient to say that for more than 15 years, I’ve finished exactly that for teams of all finances measurement from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For enjoyable, I write a day by day blog concerning the orchestra business, present a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, hold monitor of what individuals on this business receives a commission, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a superb espresso drink.

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