The Metropolitan Opera, whose efforts to cut its workers’ wages to survive the pandemic had embroiled them in a bitter dispute with their unions and threatened to derail its planned reopening in September, announced Tuesday it was one I reached an agreement with the union representing his choir and other workers.
The union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, which also represents soloists, dancers, actors and stage managers, is the first of the three largest unions to reach such a deal after months of sometimes bitter separation between work and management over such depth and The pandemic wage cut should be permanent. The Met had tried to cut wages for its highest-paid unions by 30 percent, which would cut the pay for these takeaway workers by around 20 percent.
The terms of the contract – the culmination of 14 weeks of negotiations – were not disclosed immediately. The company said they would remain confidential until the union voted to ratify the agreement on May 24.
In the past few weeks, New York officials have taken steps to ease restrictions on live performances, and in the past few days several major Broadway shows have announced their intention to resume performances in September and October. Whether the Met can reopen in September after the pandemic forced the opera house to remain closed for more than a year depends on how quickly it can resolve its remaining labor problems.
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in a statement that he was grateful to the guild “to recognize the extraordinary economic challenges facing the Met in the coming seasons”.
Leonard Egert, the guild’s executive director, said in a statement that the new contract “would ensure that the Met becomes a fairer and better place to work”.
“We are excited to reach a new deal at the most difficult time in the history of the performing arts,” he said.
The Met’s deal with the guild is just one step towards reopening. The union that represents its stage workers, Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, has been locked out since December after both sides failed to reach an agreement on wage cuts. Without his union stagehands, it will likely be impossible to start performing. And the union that represents the Met orchestra is still negotiating their contract.
The opera company, the nation’s largest performing arts organization, says it has lost $ 150 million in revenue since the coronavirus pandemic – including ticket sales for the Opera House and its cinema simulcasts, as well as revenue from shops and restaurants forced it to close its doors more than a year ago. When the Met reopens in September, it will have been 18 months without performing live at their opera house.
The Met’s management has argued that such a long period of closure – and the uncertainty about audience return at a time when New York tourism could take years to return to preandemic levels – is financial sacrifices of its own Employees. It is said that half of the proposed wage cuts would be restored once ticket receipts and core donations returned to prepandemic levels. A number of large American orchestras and opera companies have already negotiated wage cuts with their workers to help them survive the pandemic.
After the opera house closed, the members of the orchestra and choir went unpaid for almost a year. Then the company brought them to the negotiating table with an offer of up to $ 1,543 per week, less than half what they normally get.
Union members plan to gather outside Lincoln Center on Thursday to show solidarity during the tense negotiations with management. Union leaders have accused the Met’s management of using the pandemic as a reason to force concessions from work.
If approved, the agreement with the guild will take effect on August 1st. Union members will continue to receive partial payments for the time being.