Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Met Opera Reaches Tentative Deals With Two Largest Unions
Monday, August 18, 2014 - 07:00 AM
The Metropolitan Opera reached tentative labor deals Monday morning with two of its largest unions, representing orchestra musicians, singers, dancers and directors, following an all-night bargaining session with a federal mediator.
The contracts, which must be ratified by the union members, end the company's immediate threat of a lockout and allow for rehearsals to continue for the fall season, which opens on Sept. 22.
The deals were announced at 6:15 am by Allison Beck, the deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The announcement came well past a midnight lockout deadline set by the Met. "These were difficult and highly complex negotiations, and I wish to commend the parties for their resolve in addressing multiple and complex issues," Beck said in a statement.
The Met said: "We remain hopeful that the company’s 2014-15 season will open on schedule." A recorded phone message said that all employees must report to work Monday.
Terms of the contracts were not made public. The Met had been calling for pay cuts of 16 to 17 percent.
Negotiations are expected to resume on Tuesday with ten other unions including IATSE Local One, which represents stagehands. IATSE has not had formal negotiations with the Met since July 31. The company extended its contract deadline until midnight on Tuesday to allow for talks to continue; Local One told its members via Twitter that planned picket lines at the Met have been cancelled for Monday.
A "Save the Met Opera" Twitter feed run by Local One expressed a cautious note, stating, "No lockout yet," and "we want the show to go on as we continue to bargain in good faith."
The tentative deals involve the American Guild of Musical Artists (representing singers, directors and dancers) and Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians (representing the orchestra). The Met reached separate contracts on July 31 with three non-theatrical unions, representing ushers, cleaning staff, building engineers and call center workers.
The Met's last work stoppage was in 1980 and lasted for eleven weeks.
More details to follow.