Met musicians vote for deal…. with some dissent

Met musicians vote for deal…. with some dissent


norman lebrecht

August 25, 2021

The musicians’ union says its members at the Metropolitan Opera have endorsed the new pay deal.

But the okay is not unanimous.

Local 802 says the vote was ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour.

Normally these calls are unanimous.

We’d like to hear from some of those who kept their hands down on a deal that is disturbingly secret and offers no compensation for a year without pay.

Here’s the 802 statement:

The musicians of the Met Orchestra have overwhelmingly ratified their contract with the Metropolitan Opera. The following statement can be attributed jointly to AFM Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer and the Met Orchestra Committee: “We are thrilled to be returning to regular performances very soon, and look forward to reconnecting with our audiences at the Met, at Carnegie Hall, on tour, and at our newly established chamber music series at Weill Hall.”



  • sam says:

    in what universe are labor contracts ratified “unanimously”?

  • Petros Linardos says:

    So Peter Gelb suffers a crushing defeat by receiving an vote in favor by an overwhelming majority. I am trying to remember where else we heard such a spin.

  • Paul Sekhri says:

    Whether it was unanimous or overwhelmingly in favour, the beloved Met Orchestra is back. Isn’t that good enough?

  • MacroV says:

    I understand the position the MET was in regarding payment while shut down; there’s not just an orchestra but hundreds of people on their payroll – if you’re going to pay the orchestra, you have to pay the chorus, the stagehands, etc.. OTOH, one thing I haven’t heard about is how the MET’s endowment and those of other major performing institutions have done over the past 18 month; the economy was largely shut down but the stock market has been booming; the MET’s endowment could well have risen 40% during this time.

    • John Kelly says:

      Should have risen by 40% assuming most of the money was in US equities. A monkey could have made a lot in the same way. No genius portfolio management, however, I suspect there may be a lot of bonds in their portfolio, in which case, much less than 40%

  • Knowing Clam says:

    No, they aren’t “normally” unanimous. The AGMA-Met deal ratification wasn’t unanimous either.

  • Minnesota says:

    Such agreements are almost never “unanimous.”

  • Helena says:

    These calls are almost NEVER unanimous. How on earth can you so casually make such an inaccurate and misleading statement?

  • PHF says:

    The MET is teaching Wagner how to create a long musical drama with less resources. Let’s wait for the bloody tragic end.

  • Friend of an Orchestra Spouse says:

    Don’t know full details, but have heard the musicians sold out future members by having them come in with lower pay and a crazy high deductible health plan (which the current members don’t have). I can’t imagine this will create a cohesive group in the future. Wait until the incoming members become the majority and bargain away the current members’ health insurance, because why should some members have good insurance while others have to pay a high deductible? Seems like a divide and conquer plan by the Met Management.

    • SoCal Dan says:

      Can you explain why the high-deductible health plan is “crazy”? I’ve been participating in one since 2014, and now have over $56,000 sitting in my health savings account (HSA). Most of that money is invested in a stock market index fund, and all of it belongs to me. That’s not “crazy” in my book.

  • Jeff Morris says:

    I don’t think it would be correct to say that ratification votes usually resulted in unanimous results. There are many reasons why individual members may chose not to endorse the terms presented by their association, and they express that opinion with their vote.

  • Fred Funk says:

    When signing out the pit book, YES there’s an Air Tag sewn into the book, VIOLAS. Get used to it. It’s an exercise in herding cats.

  • James Scott says:

    Congratulations to the Met musicians – so glad to hear that they are going back to work, and shame on their management. Also, I have to push back on the assertion that “these things are usually unanimous” – I’ve had a long orchestral career, and have never experienced a contract renewal that was unanimously approved. The musicians are individuals, and there will always be some who would be willing to hold out for a better deal, as well as some that would have accepted less. Congratulations to the team that represented them!

  • Sisko24 says:

    I am looking forward to hearing more about this, if anything more is to be revealed. Having been ‘put off’ by moves that organization made during the first lockdown, I’m hoping the new contract will be a fair deal…maybe(?).

  • JoshW says:

    For over a year the musicians, the chorus and the stagehands talked a big loud game about how they were going to finally show the Met Opera who’s boss. And they all folded with barely a whimper. The Met management and board win again – as they should with such weak opponents.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    At least they’ll be working, and that’s better than what it’s like for many musicians around the world right now. Nobody said it would be easy.

  • Monsoon says:

    “…offers no compensation for a year without pay.”

    At the risk of sounding like a shill for management, the musicians could have been paid for not working had they accepted a 30 percent pay cut, which was the deal almost every other orchestra took. The Met musicians avoided a massive pay cut by forgoing wages for a year. They don’t get to have their cake and eat it too.

    • fcg says:

      ^ This. Right. Here.

      All sympathies to people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, including Met musicians, but what their union called draconian cuts were cuts taken by classical musicians across the country. It was a fraudulent argument. Of course, this was nothing more or less than a labor negotiation. Only artists seem to want to romanticize a labor negotiation to seem something more than that.

      I’ve said it before. The Met unions begged the NYT to give them coverage. When they did, the covered the financial issues in total. When the general public learned the average salaries of the musicians and stagehands and heard comments suggesting an utter obtuseness from the unions during an economic shutdown caused, not by Peter Gelb, but by a global pandemic, all of those couch-sitters were befuddled by the refusal of the musicians to negotiate.

      Once that happened, management won.

      • musician says:

        Ignorant armchair quarterbacks.

      • anon says:

        The crisis was not caused by the pandemic itself. It was caused by disproportionately long lockdowns that, after the first few weeks, served no public health purpose whatsoever beyond destroying everyone’s mental health and crippling society.

        As for the high salaries, well, is not the Met orchestra supposed to be one of the best of its kind, at least in the USA? In other professions, you EXPECT the top-tier organisations to pay top-tier salaries, so the Met orchestra have every right to expect high salaries, especially given that New York is an expensive city.

        • fcg says:

          Distinction without a difference. Pandemic/lockdown, it was a season+ closing not of the Met’s causing.

          While one certainly expects the Met orchestra to be well-paid compared to other orchestras, their does seem to be shrinking demand for their services.

          And if they were the highest paid orchestra before the pandemic, they still would have been had they taken the same cuts as other orchestras throughout the country.

          @musician – ignorant armchair quarterbacks? You must be kidding! It was completely obvious where this was going from day one. It was more the delusions of (especially) the orchestra’s union. How much money did the orchestra members lose by not agreeing to negotiate at the same time as the chorus? Not even to work – just to negotiate! Around eight-weeks, so $8,000 per member? That was ugly.

  • Karl says:

    They should put a big tip bowl up for the musician at the exit so people can give their money directly to the artists and bypass the overpaid bloodsucking management.

  • Robert Levine says:

    I’ve been an American orchestra musician for almost 5o years. I’ve participated in more ratification votes than I care to remember. Not a single one has been a unanimous vote.