The Chicago Teachers Union strike that ended last week was an important milestone for the labor movement. It resulted in a great victory for students and teachers, but it also showed other unions nationwide that they can fight and win, even against enormous odds.
So when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was told that their employees would see their health care contributions double in their next contract — from 5 percent to 12 percent — they decided they wouldn’t take it lying down.
“We were negotiating all day today after having negotiated many times,” said bassist Stephen Lester, chairman of the Orchestra Members Committee. “They were trying to force us into a concessionary contract, reducing our benefits and making it difficult for the orchestra to pay for health care and keep our basic standard of life.”
The CSO strike is evidence that CTU’s strike is inspiring other unions to stand up for themselves and stop attacks on the wages, benefits, and working conditions of their employees.