Peter Gelb wishes you good health

Message from Alan Gordon, the Agma negotiator:

During AGMA negotiations yesterday with the Met, we reminded Peter Gelb that there were several single mothers in the chorus who had severely disabled children needing constant medical care and other choristers who had children needing special medications, all of whom would be endangered if their health insurance was cut off when he locks out the performers, and we proposed that even if he fulfills his lockout threat on 8/1 he should keep health insurance in effect until an eventually negotiated deal, so as not to intentionally and unnecessarily hurt his own people.


Gelb’s response was that he had to cut off their health insurance to give him ‘leverage’ in the negotiations.

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  • Locked-out Met employees are eligible to continue their medical insurance without a gap in coverage through the “COBRA” program, so AGMA’s attempts to charge Gelb with murdering disabled babies are even more meaningless than most of what Gordon says.

    • You are as bad as Gelb. Ever priced out Cobra? Also without a job and living in Manhattan, or nearbye, do you have any idea what it costs to live here?

      • As a matter of fact, I have been laid off from two jobs (positions made redundant) in the past 10 years, most recently about two years ago. I went on Cobra both times until I found new permanent employment. Cobra is certainly not cheap and it took some scrimping to get by, but that is, after all, what unemployment is like for millions of Americans each year. I’m not sure why Met union employees intrinsically deserve to be exempt from this unpleasantness of economic reality while (as I say) millions of Americans have to deal with it.

        • This is a truly sad illustration of the current reality in the US job market. Those at the top of the ladder have successfully managed to get workers to turn on each other, saying “hey, I don’t have that, why should you?” instead of joining together and saying to management “hey, they have that, why don’t I?” And as long as this remains the case, as long as we simply swallow whole the assertion that the pie is fixed at this particular size and all that’s left is for us to fight each other over the crumbs, nothing will change.

          • Nor will it change while there’s an ingrained mentality of “workers” and “management”, which is broadly daft in an arts context – everyone is after the same end goal!

  • I should add for clarification (especially since this blog is based outside the US) that because in the US health insurance is in many case offered through one’s employer, the “COBRA” program is designed to allow someone who suffers an interruption in employment to continue his insurance coverage seamlessly until he starts new employment. What happens is that the ex-employee is billed for the entire cost of his premium, as opposed to the time during employment, when the employer contributes a significant share of that premium.

    It’s a less than perfect system, because people without employment can have some difficulty in paying the rather large premiums charged according to COBRA. This would be an especially acute issue for members of the Met unions, who enjoy extremely comprehensive medical coverage which is (during employment) almost completely subsidized by the Met.

    I’m not sure why Gelb’s action seems illogical: the unions have thus far refused to negotiate in good faith, and their contracts end on July 31. Why should he extend unions which have until now been recalcitrant the favor of continued employment when no contract is in effect?

    • Utter balderdash, the Metropolitan Opera has not negotiated in good faith either. They also withheld information the Unions are entitled to have.

        • It saddens me that any poster has to resort to rather pathetic little insults!

          Lots of opinions are expressed in this blog. You seem to be in favour of at least some of Gelb’s position. Fine. It provides balance. But please do not descend to the level of petty insults. I do believe they demean you far more than the person they are aimed at.

    • In labor negotiations, “good faith” is a term of art and a failure to negotiate in good faith is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. Whether a party has failed to negotiate in good faith is determined by the totality of the circumstances of the negotiation, and only the parties to that negotiation are in a position to know what those circumstances are. It is thus irresponsible for any observer to throw out a flippant remark like “the unions have refused to negotiate in good faith.”

  • And, yes, I live in the New York area, though, like many people who work at the Met, I choose to live outside Manhattan in order to economize: so that, for example, if my employment should be interrupted, I will have enough resources to be able to continue my health insurance. Even those of us who don’t happen to be single mothers with disabled children needing constant medical care can manage to be financially prudent in an unstable economy, particularly since the vast majority of us have no union to “protect” us

  • I will amend that to “the unions have thus far apparently refused to negotiate in good faith” for the sake of pedantry. I’m sure “Save the Met” will rush to follow my example of prudence.

    • “For the sake of pedantry” is a clever turn of phrase — and I mean that sincerely, it’s impressive — but I’m afraid it misses the point. The point is that neither you (nor I) is in a position to say that the parties have negotiated in bad faith, “apparently” or otherwise. It is no small matter to accuse someone of violating federal law, so it is worthwhile to choose one’s words carefully.

  • Having a system of health insurance that is tied to employment, as is the case in the USA for the most part, is certainly an advantage for the employer in establishing “leverage” in negotiations, as Mr. Gelb says–part and parcel with the overall weakness of labor in negotiations in the USA. The unfortunate habit of people like Claudia Menlo to decry the advantages gained by unions for their members is sad indeed. She should become a union organizer instead. She is right that Gelb’s action is completely logical, however. If locked out employees have to pay huge sums for health insurance, it gives him a large amount of leverage in “negotiations.” That’s the American Way.

    • Thanks to the ACA (AKA Obamacare) one can enroll in this fine program outside of the end-of-year enrollment period under certain hardship cases. A lockout or strike may constitute one such case.

      Many Americans benefit and get their healthcare needs taken care of by this program. The Met union members may, too. Coverage not as generous as the Met provided? Deductible too great? Too many co-payments? Well, welcome to the world, brotha.

    • Who is “Nick”? Save-the-Met? or you, for that matter?
      Is it so shocking that not everyone who reads this blog buys the union position, hook, line, and sinker? I chuckle.

    • Claudia Menlo was the name of a character played by Joan Crawford in the pilot for a US series titled “Night Gallery” eventually aired in the early 1970s on NBC. “Night Gallery” featured tales of horror and the macabre.

      I am sure there is absolutely no connection between this character and the poster of the same name!!!

      • Isn’t the current situation at the Met a tale of horror and the macabre? And if it’s not, surely Lebrecht’s coverage of it is.

        • In your eyes, perhaps. In most others, the situation at the Met is largely one of Gelb and his moribund Board’s creation. But I do love it that you have chosen for your ‘handle’ such a dark and mysterious name!

      • Yes, obviously,

        But I’m surprised a PR firm would invent a sock puppet of such coarse and grating ineloquence.

  • Ms Menlo, continuing my insurance through COBRA would be more than $30,000 a year.
    Anyone saying they wish to squeeze their employees so that it will give management leverage is not really considering the full consequences of their actions.

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