The musicians have been playing without a contract since the previous agreement expired in August 2004.
Musicians say that they accepted a series of pay cuts when the orchestra was struggling in the 1990s, and that they now deserve a raise. Base pay at the orchestra is just $15,758.
Last month, musicians acceded to management's longtime demand for a one-year deal and proposed that new negotiations to determine terms begin in June. Instead, management proposed a long-term deal, which was rejected by musicians; last week, musicians made a counteroffer, which management rejected.
"The musicians' morale is quite high, because we're united around the issue that it's time to catch up for all the sacrifices we've made for the health of the organization," Carla Lehmeier, the president of the players' association, told the Tribune. "We've discovered that in order to be a priority we have to stand up and make ourselves heard—after all, we are the product."