Update: Ratified Agreement For The Chicago Lyric Opera On Strike
October 12, 2018
UPDATE: The Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Musicians Union Local 10-208 representing its orchestra musicians have reached a contract agreement, just days after the musicians went on strike. The musicians ratified the deal Sunday evening, according to a statement.
In a tweet late Saturday, the Lyric Opera said that they and the Chicago Federation of Musicians Local #10-208 had reached a labor agreement that extended through the 2020/2021 season.
The final agreement includes a reduction in the number of main opera season weeks from 24 to 22 and a reduction in the number of musicians, according to a statement by musicians.
They add that the â€œconcessions are mitigated by more favorable terms we were able to obtain.â€
Other terms of the agreement include:
â€” A 5.6 percent increase in weekly salary over the 3-year contract term.
â€” The 2019-20 season now includes a guarantee of five (5) additional weeks for the â€œRingâ€ cycle, outside of the 22-week main opera season.
â€” The orchestra size will be reduced by four instead of five musicians, delayed until the 2019-20 season.
â€” The Spring musical is now guaranteed to employ 37 members of the Orchestra, and the salary for the musicals increases significantly (by 6.6%).
â€” There are new guarantees regarding the hiring of Orchestra musicians for Joffrey Ballet productions beginning in 2020.
â€” Health care benefits are maintained as is; family leave is now 8 paid weeks; and there are numerous other improvements in working conditions.
October 12, 2018
Musicians Reject Cuts to Orchestra Size, Season Length & Wages
In response to managementâ€™s demands for radical cuts, the Lyric Opera of Chicago musicians went on strike today. Opera management wants to eliminate five musicians from the orchestra, slash musiciansâ€™ pay by 8%, reduce the length of the season, and end the operaâ€™s radio broadcasts.
The Lyric Opera of Chicagoâ€™s budget has skyrocketed from $60.4 million in 2012 to $84.5 million in 2017â€”but musicians have not shared in that $24 million increase. The musicianâ€™s share of the budget has actually decreased from 14.6% in 2012 to 11.9% in 2017. Musiciansâ€™ weekly salaries have increased an average of less than 1% per year since 2011. Wages have actually decreased by 5.1% since 2011 when adjusted for inflation.
Musicians are fighting to maintain the number of orchestra musicians, for cost of living increases, and to preserve benefits and working conditions. The musiciansâ€™ last proposal to management tied wage increases directly to the rate of inflation. This is in stark contrast to Anthony Freud, the operaâ€™s general director, who has seen his compensation rise 18% from 2014 to 2017. Freud received a 16% raise in 2016â€”right after musicians agreed to a cost-neutral contract with cuts to their health care.
Freud is now leading the charge to gut the orchestra. Managementâ€™s proposed salary cuts would cost each musician $6,000; Freud, with his $800,000 annual salary, gets paid that much every three days.
Over the past 65 years, Chicagoâ€™s citizens, civic leaders, and philanthropists built a world-class opera company for a world-class city. The Lyric Opera of Chicago musicians are a key part of that success, but managementâ€™s cuts would decimate the orchestra and forever diminish the opera.
Chicago musicians are on strike because they will not, and cannot, accept a Lyric Opera of Chicago that is nothing but a pale shadow of its former self. If Anthony Freud and his crew abdicate their responsibility as the stewards of this organization, then the musicians will gladly take up that cause.