Met Opera Proposes Federal Mediator in Contract Talks

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As part of an eleventh-hour effort to resolve a bitter labor dispute at the Metropolitan Opera, the company has proposed to bring in a federal mediator. Contracts for 15 of its 16 unions expire Thursday at midnight and talks have so far been highly contentious.

The Met introduced the mediation idea in separate talks with the singers' union and the orchestra union. The singers, however, first wanted assurances that both the orchestra and stagehand unions were also on board.

Tino Gagliardi, the president of the orchestra union, says that they're considering the Met's proposal. He also asked the company to extend current contracts and to drop its threats of a lockout. But Met management has said it plans to stay firm on the deadline, and has vowed to lock out its 2,400 unionized workers on Friday morning if a deal isn’t reached in time.

A source close to the stagehands' union said they are not considering mediation as they've had "respectful" talks with the Met all along.

The Met’s mediation proposal came after the singers' union suggested an "interest based bargaining" approach, where both parties sit in a circle, state their interests and work on finding a "win-win" solution. The Met rejected the idea, saying it wasn't practical with so little time left before contracts expire.