Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Metropolitan Opera Worker Lockout Postponed 72 Hours

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TWC News: Metropolitan Opera Worker Lockout Postponed 72 Hours
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The Metropolitan Opera says it's postponing a lockout of 3,000 of its workers for three days.

Just before the midnight contract deadline, the Met released a statement saying the delay was requested by federal mediators.

Management says during the 72-hour cooling off period, talks will continue with AGMA, the union that represents performers, as well as Local 802, which represents orchestra musicians, and music staff and Local One, which represents the Met's stagehands.

While there are 15 unions involved in the negotiations, these are the unions that represent the largest number of the workers.

Management wants the unions to accept salary cuts of about 17 percent to help cover shrinking ticket sales and higher operating costs. But the unions say the focus needs to be on overspending and waste instead.

"I'm hoping that over the next couple of days we can bridge the gap, we can make that gap smaller, so that we can actually bargain a deal that's going to be fair and respectful to the performers and the stagecraft people that work at the crown jewel of culture in New York City, the Metropolitan Opera," said Local 802 President Tino Gagliardi.

"Everybody wants to find a resolution to this contract issue and we want to work you know, we're musicians and we want to get back in the house and we want there to be a season in the fall," said Local 802 Member Jessica Phillips Rieske.

On Thursday, some employees retrieved their tools in case the lockout went through. Later that night three of the smaller unions reached an agreement with the Met.

The institution ran a deficit of nearly $3 million last season.

Management says part of the financial problems can be tied to the fact that two-thirds of the Met’s $327 million operating budget consists of pay and benefits for union workers.

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