May 16, 2014
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – AFM Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, and the MET Opera Orchestra Committee which constitutes the Local 802 negotiating committee have authorized the MET Opera Orchestra to initiate a strike. This action followed devastating contract proposals from Metropolitan Opera management on Monday May 12th.
The vote provides legal basis for the option to go on strike should management’s intransigence warrant such an action. The musicians’ contract expires July 31.
Clarinetist Jessica Phillips Rieske, chair of the MET Orchestra Negotiating Committee, said, “We remain hopeful that the negotiations will have a positive outcome. The Grammy Award winning MET Orchestra is not only one of the truly great orchestras in the world, but a beloved New York City cultural icon. To maintain this level of quality, the Metropolitan Opera must compensate its musicians at a standard that allows this ensemble to continue to attract and retain world-class talent.”
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith,” said Tino Gagliardi, President of the Associated Musicians of Greater New York, Local 802, AFM, “and we are optimistic that an agreement can be reached that will not deny the opera audience of New York City and the Metropolitan Opera’s international audience access to the acclaimed artistry of the hardest-working orchestra in the world.”
In response to Local 802's approval to strike if needed, Met management issued the following statement: The Met has only just begun its contract negotiations with the Musicians and its 15 other unions. Our contracts expire at the end of July, and we hope to reach an agreement between now and then. Our singular goal is to control our costs in order to secure a sustainable business model that will ensure the Met’s future and the livelihood of our employees.