Deadline Extended for Met Opera Lockout; NYC Officials Rally Behind Musicians
01 Aug 2014
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and supporters rallied Aug. 1 in Dante Park in front of Lincoln Center before resuming federally mediated negotiations under a 72-hour threat of lockout imposed by opera manager Peter Gelb.
As previously reported, contracts were to expire for 15 of the Met's 16 unions July 31, and the opera company's general manager, Gelb, advised union members to prepare for a lockout.
Musicians, Met Opera artists, elected officials in NYC and more have called on Gelb to continue negotiating in good faith and lift his threat of lockout.
Prior to talks, Gelb, according to a press release from the Met Orchestra Musicians, "had for months refused to provide essential information to allow negotiations to begin, then days before the start of scheduled discussions, sent a letter warning workers to prepare to be locked out and receive no pay or benefits after their contract expired August 1."
Gelb has cited ticket sales, rising operating costs and a depleted endowment as contributing to the financial problems.
Tino Gagliardi, president of the Met Orchestra' union, Local 802, AFM, said in a statement, "We are working with FMCS Deputy Director Allison Beck and will return to the bargaining table tomorrow, and we are prepared to do so every day after tomorrow if the mediation effort is proceeding in good faith. Declaring a lockout would gravely undermine the mediation process. It is our hope that the mediated negotiations will finally yield transparency on the part of Met management, requiring it to prove why it needs upwards of $30 Million in cuts to address a deficit of $2.8 million. We also trust that the mediator will urge management to acknowledge its overspending and role in falling revenues. We also hope that the mediator requires the Met to give full and genuine consideration to the cost-saving suggestions offered by the musicians, totaling $37.8 Million, which includes concessions resulting in lower pay for workers, significantly reducing the Met's labor costs."
Elected officials, including congressman Jerrold Nadler, NYC comptroller Scott Stringer, public advocate Tish James, Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer, state senator Brad Hoylman, assembly member Linda Rosenthal, New York City council members Jimmy Van Bramer and Helen Rosenthal have publicly asked Gelb not to lock out its workers.
Click here to read more about the Met's financial problems.