Striking Chicago Symphony Orchestra receives labor union support

Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians have struck a chord with some of the city's largest labor unions.

From teachers to teamsters, union leaders are walking the picket line to show their support for a nearly two week long strike.

"This is a working class city no matter what you do.  Our uniforms may separate us, but our spirit does not, so we are here to have your backs," said Bob Rider, the president of the Chicago Federation of Labor which represents about 300 local unions.

The musicians say a new contract offered by management makes them significantly less competitive compared to the benefits packages of other American orchestras.

Viola player Danny Lai is a Northwestern University graduate and has performed with the CSO for four years.

"I auditioned for this orchestra because they had one of the best contracts and best reputations in the world," he said.

"When I came in I felt like it was a promise that we were going to get this pension.  And to get rid of it, it feels really discouraging."

The orchestra's management believes keeping the current benefits in place would put the future of the CSO in jeopardy.

Several concerts have been canceled as the strike enters a twelfth day. But two free concerts are planned. The first is Friday at 8 p.m. at PianoForte Studios, 1335 S. Michigan Ave., second floor. The second concert is 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 25, at the CTU Hall, 1901 W. Carroll Ave.

Information on each concert can be found on