The new contract, which extends through September of 2007, sets out provisions for musicians' salaries, health benefits, pensions, and work rules. The orchestra voted on the new contract Saturday, November 6, shortly before playing a concert with the dance company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
The orchestra's salaries will remain at the current base rate of $2,000 per week, a pay level agreed upon in the musicians' last contract, for the next year. In the second and third years of the new contract, salaries increase every six months up to $2,200 in the final half-year. This will bring the base pay for musicians up to $114,400 from $104,000.
Pension benefits remain the same, at $63,000 per year. Co-payments and deductibles in the orchestra health-insurance plan will increase, and musicians must pay a portion of the premiums in the second year of the new contract.
The CSO association, the orchestra's management, maintains a goal of adjusting the size of the orchestra: by attrition and retirement: from the 111 musicians currently employed to 106.
Talks between the musicians and the CSO association were mediated by the Hon. Abner J. Mikva. In a statement, the CSO thanked Mikva for his "invaluable guidance and strong commitment."