Metropolitan Opera Reaches Contract Deal with Performers and Staff

Classic Arts News   Metropolitan Opera Reaches Contract Deal with Performers and Staff
The Metropolitan Opera has reached agreement on new labor contracts with its orchestra, singers, dancers, and production staff.

Agreements were reached simultaneously with Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians (representing the musicians of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) and the American Guild of Musical Artists (representing singers, dancers, and staff).

The agreements, which still must be ratified by the full membership of the unions, were reached more than a year before the expiration of the current contracts.

Both contracts are for five-year terms and call for wage freezes in the first two years followed by a 4 percent salary increase in the third year and 2 percent increases in the fourth and fifth years. The Met will also increase its contribution to pensions in the third year of the pact. In addition, the two sides agreed that the Met could stage abridged "audience development" matinees during the week.

Further provisions relating to recordings and broadcasts remain to be negotiated over the next year.

"I am very pleased that, when I retire next year, the Met will be assured of its third decade of labor harmony," said general manager Joseph Volpe in a statement, "and I am especially proud that all of our loyal company members recognized the financial situation which the Met is facing and joined with us to resolve matters thirteen months in advance to avoid any uncertainty."

Alan Gordon, president of AGMA, said, "AGMA is extraordinarily pleased that the negotiating committee...has been able to successfully conclude an early and expedited renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement between the Met and AGMA, assuring peaceful labor relations, and a contract that protects the professional and financial rewards of our members, far into the future."

David Lennon, president of Local 802, added, "In this tough economic climate, with audience attendance down, the Met and Local 802 were able to achieve an agreement that addresses the future needs of both musicians and management. By agreeing to stabilize wages for two years, the musicians secured a significant and generous pension increase."

Volpe was put in charge of the Met's labor relations shortly after a strike in 1980, and has overseen seven successful negotiations since that time, as assistant manager and general manager. He will be replaced at the end of the 2005-06 season by Peter Gelb, the former president of Sony Classical.

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