August 26, 2014
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – The Metropolitan Opera has now settled contracts with all unions involved in their negotiations. Labor organizations with new agreements include seven unions represented by IATSE: Local 1 stagehands, Local 751 box office treasurers, Local 764 costume and wardrobe specialists, Local 794 camera operators, Local 798 hair, and make-up professionals, Local 829 scenic artists and designers, and Local 829 bill posters.
The Met also reached agreements with Local 1456 painters of DC 9, AGMA representing chorus, and stage managers, as well as Local 802 representing orchestra musicians and music librarians. On July 31st the Met had reached agreements with Local 32BJ representing ushers, ticket takers, cleaning staff, security guards, and office service workers, Local 210 representing call center staff, and the Local 30 building engineers.
"We're pleased to announce a tentative agreement was reached,” said Matthew Loeb, International President of IATSE. “This wasn't easy. However, after a summer spent negotiating, in these final hours we were able to craft an agreement that allows the show to go on and is fair for our members," continued Loeb. "The…agreement we reached, which includes mandatory cost reductions from management and an independent monitor to track budget performance, offers a way to get the Met on track for success,” said Loeb.
Tino Gagliardi, President, Local 802, AFM said that “We now have tentative contractual language requiring shared investments in the Met Opera's future by both workers and management, as well as mechanisms to ensure financial oversight and efficient collaboration going forward," said Gagliardi.
The prolonged negotiations centered on the Met's general manager Peter Gelb's demand for reductions of over $30 million to union work contracts. The givebacks would have caused substantial pay and pension cuts, health benefit reductions and changes to work rules. Negotiations were stalled and a federal mediator was assigned. The mediator requested a financial analysis of the Met Opera's finances which was needed to allow contract talks to go forward. During negotiations, the Met threated to lockout union members if an agreement could not be reached.
President Loeb added, "We've said since bargaining began in May that IA members understand the financial realities facing the Metropolitan Opera. We've always been willing to contribute to a solution that will keep the world's best opera in front of the world's greatest opera fans. We've also have insisted, from day one, that management must confront budget realities and make substantial and quantifiable contributions to a financially sustainable business model."
The Met season opens September 22nd with a new production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.