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Down to the Wire: Metropolitan Opera Reaches First Round Agreements with Two Unions, 10 Others Await Future

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Aug 19, 2014 11:42 AM EDT

Well, wouldn't you know; the Metropolitan Opera has finally found some common ground. GM Peter Gelb and two of the Met's largest union factions have reached tentative labor deals, while negotiations for 10 other unions are still in progress.

Sources say that the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced agreements with Local 802 of the musicians' union and with the American Guild of Musical Artists, its orchestra and chorus.

Specific details are still to come.

A spokesman has announced, though, the Met will extend its original Sunday night contract deadline through midnight Tuesday with the remaining unions.

One of those labor groups, Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, is another major player in the discussions--representing stage hands, carpenters and electricians--major contributors to the success of the coming season.

It's coming down to the wire, indeed. If full agreements aren't reached, then the opera's season (scheduled to start on September 22) is in jeopardy.

Allison Beck said in a statement, "We are grateful for the commitment to the collective bargaining process and grateful most of all that the Metropolitan Opera, one of the world's premier cultural institutions, will continue providing outstanding operas for all to enjoy."

Gelb demanded pay cuts of about 17 percent, citing that earlier productions had risen and that the artsy backgrounds were under fire (in accordance with pensions, health care benefits, etc.). Union workers said that a radical move such as this was unwarranted, citing the Met's $2.8 million deficit on a budget of $326 million.

15 unions representing about 2,500 chorus singers, orchestra musicians, stagehands, carpenters and others had been in negotiations since February. Their contracts expired July 31, and three of them reached new agreements earlier this month--those being unions representing ushers, security guards and cleaning staff.

So, while the world awaits the divine fate of the Metropolitan Opera, all that we can hope is that the two sides find similar compromise and continue with another highly anticipated season.

Until then, keep your ears trained on Joyce DiDonato doing Rossini's La Cenerentola from earlier this year.

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TagsThe Metropolitan Opera, Peter Gelb, The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, Local 802, The American Guild of Musical Artists, Local 1, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Allison Beck

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