The Detroit Symphony Orchestra was silent for six months due to a musicians’ strike that ended in April. Now, Chicago’s famed Lyric Opera could follow suit.
Our partner station WBEZ reports the American Guild of Musical Artists is telling its members to be prepared to picket the annual free concert next month and possibly strike on opening night.
A strike would put a damper on the debut season in Chicago for the noted soprano Renee Fleming, who has taken a high-profile role with the Lyric.
Union Executive Director Alan Gordon said the Lyric is threatening to lock out workers a week from Monday, if there is no deal.
“We’ve made sacrifice after sacrifice in an effort to help Lyric improve its fiscal position, and we do not expect to be paid back by threats,” Gordon said. He said negotiations are stuck because the Lyric wants to cut pay and benefits.
A Lyric spokeswoman confirmed the company is in contract negotiations, but wouldn’t comment because she said the company’s policy is not to negotiate in the media.
The Lyric’s orchestra threatened a strike on the opening night of an opera two years ago over similar issues, saying members couldn’t agree to a pay freeze and shorter seasons that would essentially cut pay. The parties resolved that dispute and avoided a strike.