Met latest: Musicians say drop the lockout threat and we’ll go to mediation
July 31, 2014 by norman lebrecht
press release, just in:
Met Musicians: Met Opera GM Peter Gelb Should Back Off Devastating Lockout Threats as Part of Federal Mediation Offer
Gelb should extend the current contract and continue talks without depriving musicians and families of income and health care and imperiling the upcoming Met Opera season
New York, NY–Thursday, July 31, 2014–During Met Opera negotiations on Wednesday, July 30, Met Opera management offered the option of bringing in a federal mediator to work toward an agreement. This, after months of stalling tactics on their part had pushed negotiations to just days before the current contract deadline. Last week, before negotiations even began, Gelb sent a letter to employees telling them to prepare to be locked out and receive no pay or benefits after their contract expires on August 1.
Said Associated Musicians of Greater New York Local 802 president Tino Gagliardi, “Management proposed federal mediation to Local 802. We are considering it, and we believe it would have a much greater chance of success if Peter Gelb would back off his lockout threats and extend the current contract.”
The musicians had hoped to pursue good-faith negotiations with opera management. Unfortunately, Gelb has pursued a calculated strategy to lock out his artists and craftspeople and put the upcoming Met Opera season in jeopardy. For months Gelb has purposely refused to provide essential financial information that would have allowed substantive, good faith negotiations to proceed, instead making erroneous claims in the press in the run-up to a long-planned lockout.
While labor costs have remained flat during Gelb’s tenure, the MET Opera budget has increased by nearly 50% ($105 Million), in large part due to overspending on unpopular new productions, poor scheduling, ineffective marketing and management waste. The MET Orchestra, which has won three consecutive Grammys and is considered the best opera orchestra in the world, is absolutely in favor of new and artistically daring productions. They believe that with well-chosen productions and expert management, the Met can live within its budget and present innovative grand opera while also offering competitive compensation to attract and retain the best musicians in the world.
The musicians have produced an extensive, detailed report on the Met Opera under the management and artistic direction of Peter Gelb. The report also notes the severe impacts of the cuts Gelb seeks, and concludes with the musicians’ suggestions for $37.8 Million in cost-savings for the Met Opera, including substantial savings to its labor budget. Gelb has dismissed all of the musicians’ proposals, including givebacks and concessions, seemingly in favor of a lockout.
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