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Chicago Symphony Orchestra Ratifies New 3-Year Agreement

The three-year collective bargaining agreement will be effective from September 2023 through September 2026

The new contract was announced by the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) — members of the Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM), Local 10-208 of the American Federation of Musicians — and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA).

Under the terms of the new agreement, CSO musicians' annual salary will increase by 3% in each of the three years of the contract. Plus, all healthcare, insurance, and retirement benefits will be retained.

Improvements were implemented for the working conditions of the musicians, in addition to additional revenue opportunities, cost reductions, and managerial efficiencies for the CSOA and Ravinia Festival.

“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra remains a cultural beacon in the world today. Known for its extraordinary artistry, the CSO is an important ambassador for the arts,” said CSOA Board Chair Mary Louise Gorno. “The Trustees recognize and celebrate the incredible musical gifts shared by the musicians of the CSO with our audiences in Chicago, in the U.S. and around the world. On behalf of the Board, we express gratitude to the teams who worked collaboratively and productively to secure this new agreement that provides financial sustainability for the organization while retaining the highest artistic standards.”

“The Musicians of the CSO are very pleased that an agreement for a new contract with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association has been reached,” said James Smelser, Chair of the CSO Members’ Committee. “We are appreciative of the Trustees and the Administration and their efforts, and this agreement demonstrates the strong support by the Board for the Members of the Orchestra. Their commitment to the Orchestra allows us to continue the tradition of sharing great orchestral music at the highest level with our audiences in Chicago and across the world.”


Previously, the musicians had voted unanimously to reject the board’s “final” proposal in 2019, alleging that plans to freeze the pension plan at its current level and limit the increase in base salary to an average of 2.3% a year over five years, would not provide musicians a guaranteed retirement benefit, and put the CSO behind the salary offerings of the San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In March and April 2019, they engaged in a seven-week strike before agreeing to a contract calling for a 13.25% wage increase across a five-year period.


This week, CSO’s music director emeritus for life Riccardo Muti will direct the orchestra’s season-opening performance at Orchestra Hall. He will also lead the CSO in New York to open Carnegie Hall’s concert season on October 4, 2023.

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