From: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing & Communications  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ 


CHICAGO (10/10/2018)

ON THE RECORD: Lyric’s Negotiations with CFM

Our Proposals
FACT: Lyric has made a fair offer to the musicians of the orchestra. We are committed to paying an excellent wage for work that is done but we can no longer pay for work that is not done.
  • Under the new contract proposal, Lyric is offering average annual take home wages of $82,500 per orchestra member for 22 weeks of work and 20 hours of work per week. Any work over 20 hours per week is paid as overtime.
  • Lyric will continue to offer full health benefits to all orchestra members and their families year-round. In 2018, Lyric paid 92% of the total cost or $954,000 while orchestra members paid 8% or $86,000, as their total combined contribution. The current proposal maintains this benefit.
  • Lyric will continue to pay into an expensive defined benefit pension plan for the orchestra. The contribution has increased and next year will be 11.99% of wages.
  • As an example of the inefficiencies embedded in the current agreement, during the 2016/17 season, Lyric paid $1.8 million in wages (not including the cost of benefits) to orchestra members for work weeks that Lyric could not use. These payments were guaranteed by the contract. Lyric’s proposals only seek to reduce a fraction of these payments.
  • The new contract proposal provides for additional work when The Joffrey Ballet moves to the opera house in 2020 and continues the offer of additional work on the annual musical. During the 2019/20 season, the planned Ring cycles represent an additional five weeks of work for 95 orchestra musicians at a cost of more than $1.5 million to Lyric.
  • IATSE (ratified) and AGMA (subject to ratification) have agreed to contracts with similar provisions.
CHICAGO (10/9/2018) – The Chicago Federation of Musicians (CFM) Local #10-208 is on strike at Lyric Opera. This unnecessary and harmful action has required Lyric to cancel some performances. Ryan Opera Center, Lyric Unlimited and other related activities also will be affected. Additional updates will be provided as these determinations are made.

We apologize for the inconvenience and losses this disruption creates for our patrons, donors, partners and other dedicated employees, and are doing everything possible to protect as much of our season as possible. That said, Lyric simply cannot agree to the terms CFM demands, given our current financial circumstances. Our proposed changes are necessary to ensure Lyric’s survival as a world-class opera company providing a diverse range of cultural entertainment to communities throughout Chicago.

We offered CFM wage increases in exchange for a reduction in guaranteed work weeks that better aligns with audience demand and increased scheduling flexibility that will allow us to access additional rental income. The leadership of our other two unions – the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) – recognized the need for these essential changes and have agreed to multi-year agreements. Only CFM refused. Lyric urges CFM to continue to talk and perform.

From: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Holly H. Gilson
Senior Director, Communications

Magda Krance
Director of Media Relations

About Lyric

Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.

Founded in 1954, Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.

Under the leadership of general director, president & CEO Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become The Great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

To learn more about Lyric’s current season, go to You can also join the conversation with @LyricOpera on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. #Lyric1819 #LongLivePassion

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Lyric Opera of Chicago
20 N. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
United States