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Monday, August 18, 2014

"And We Go Into Extra Innings!"

Early morning agreement may save the Met season.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Deliberations continue as the Metropolitan Opera tries to avoid a lockout.
Image from the film 12 Angry Men © 1957 MGM/United Artists.
It looks like there may not be a lockout at the Metropolitan Opera.

In a story announced on Twitter at 6:58am by New York Times reporter Michael Cooper, the Metropolitan Opera and the two unions representing the orchestra, singers, dancers and chorus have reached a tentative agreement.

The talks, between the Met, Local 802 (representing the orchestra) and the American Guild of Musical Artists (representing the stage performers) were presided over by federal mediator Allison Beck, who was called in as a previous deadline expired. Last night, negotiations continued past the midnight deadline and lasted until 5:00 AM, the Times article reported.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The Met and its unions have been grappling over general manager Peter Gelb's declared intent to slash workers' overtime and health benefits in an effort to lower operating costs. The Met has claimed that these cost reductions are necessary to balance against lower ticket sales and an annual operating budget of $327 million.

In a related story, the Met's negotiations with Local 1, which represents the company's stagehands, have agreed to extend their lockout deadline to Tuesday at midnight. The remaining nine unions, who are also currently without contracts, have also been extended.

On their Twitter page, Local 1 posted "We continue to bargain in good faith."

Employees at the Metropolitan Opera were told to report today, and plans for a Local One picket line across the street from Lincoln Center were put on hold, Mr. Cooper reported.

At this late date, a lockout would threaten to darken the storied opera house as it got ready for the 2014-15 season, which is scheduled to start on Sept. 22 with a new production of Mozart's Le Nozze de Figaro.

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