Live To Perform Another Day: Labor Crisis Avoided At The Met Copywright John Moore, Getty Images.

Live To Perform Another Day: Labor Crisis Avoided At The Met

The Metropolitan Opera. Copywright John Moore, Getty Images

In a war, no one wins. For the Metropolitan Opera and the orchestra and chorus unions, both sides suffered losses, but also lived to perform another day. According to The New York Times, the two unions acknowledged the seriousness of the Met's financial stability and agreed to their first pay cuts in decades, while the Met reduced their heavy demands and promised to share the cuts on the administrative side as well.

To avoid closing its doors like the New York City Opera or waging a wearisome battle like Minnesota Opera, the Met and two unions reached a compromise for the sake of the classical community. The union workers agreed to a 3.5% wage cut upon ratifications, and then another 3.5% in six months from either wages or benefits. While it was not the 17% Met's general manager, Peter Gelb, originally demanded, the labor cuts are matched on the administrative side, too, and also includes a cut of $11.25 million worth of other expenses. The Met's annual budget had risen to $300 million, but this agreement will cut $90 million over the next four years.

Similarly, the Met just reached an agreement with IATSE Local 1, which represents the stagehands, that will result in comparable savings. By the end of July, the Met had already secured agreements with Local 32BJ, representing the ushers, ticket takers, cleaning staff, porters, security guards, and office service workers; Local 210, representing the call center; and Local 30, representing building engineers. With all these agreements, the Met has avoided a potential labor crisis.

Out of the 16 unions, representing 1,600 full-time and seasonal employees. whose contracts expired in July, there are still six more negotiations to be had for the unions represented by IATSE: Local 751 (box office treasurers), Local 764 (costume and wardrobe), Local 794 (camera operators), Local 798 (wigs, hair, and make-up), Local USA 829 (scenic artists and designers), and Local 829EE (bill poster); Local Four (parks crew); and Local 1456 (painters). 

Pre-season rehearsals will continue without interruption. The Met season will open on September 22 with a new production of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and continue with 221 performances of 26 operas in six new productions and 18 revivals. 

For the full article, visit The New York Times.

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