Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle stands with picketing CSO musicians

By Keegan Morris |

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Toni Preckwinkle joins the striking Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians Symphony Center (Photo: Marilyn Katz Communications courtesy of the Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

On a rainy Thursday morning, Cook County Board President and Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle visited Symphony Center to stand with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians, who have been on strike since late Sunday night, and have been picketing daily since Monday morning.

Flanked by striking musicians and “On Strike” signs, Preckwinkle advocated for the musicians of the CSO. "I think it’s insulting that billionaires should say to ordinary working people — in this case musicians — that they have enough," said Preckwinkle, according to a post on the Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Facebook page.

Lori Lightfoot, Preckwinkle’s opponent in the Chicago mayoral election runoff, voiced her support for the CSO musicians on Twitter on Monday, the first day of picketing:

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike since their six-month contract extension expired on Sunday, March 10 at 11:59 pm. The musicians, represented by the Chicago Federation of Musicians, reached an impasse in contract negotiations with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. Leading up to and during the strike, the CSO musicians have cited shrinking pensions and stagnating wages relative to other top-tier US orchestras. Meanwhile, the CSOA has stated that the CSO musicians have one of the highest salaries among major orchestras in the country.

In an uncommon move for a music director, Riccardo Muti expressed his support for the musicians, first by written statement prior to the strike on Wednesday, March 6, then by speaking from the picket line on Tuesday, March 12. During his Tuesday appearance at the strike, Muti clarified that his support was for the CSO musicians, but he was not against the CSOA.

On Tuesday, March 12, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association announced that all Symphony Center concerts through Saturday, March 16 would be canceled. Negotiations between the musicians and the association are set to resume on Friday, March 15.

Editor's note: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association is an advertiser on WFMT.