Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Union for Metroplitan Opera Musicians Rallies for Support for New Deal

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TWC News: Union for Metroplitan Opera Musicians Rallies for Support for New Deal
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Talks continued Friday between the Metropolitan Opera and union workers seeking a new contract, while the union for musicians looked to gain support for a new deal at a rally.

The brass section of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra played across the street from its Lincoln Center home for fellow members of Local 802. The union for musicians was asking Met management to remove the threat of a lockout until a contract agreement is reached.

"I'm hoping that over the next couple of days, we can bridge the gap, we can make that gap smaller," said Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802.

Met management agreed to a request by federal mediators to extend contract talks for 72 hours from the midnight Thursday deadline, averting a lockout of union musicians, performers and stagehands. Met General Manager Peter Gelb said they want to work with the unions and do everything they can to achieve a new contract.

While deals were reached with workers from three smaller non-theatrical unions at the Met, 12 others have not reached an agreement with a new lockout deadline looming.

"We want to work," said Jessica Phillips Rieske, a member of Local 802. "We're musicians, and we want to get back in the house, and we want there to be a season in the fall for the fans and all the opera lovers and for us."

The Met ran a deficit of nearly $3 million last season on a $327 million budget. The opera wants union members to accept pay cuts of about 17 percent to help cover shrinking ticket sales and higher operating costs. The unions blame the opera's overspending and waste for the deficit, not their salaries.

"A deal can be worked out, and it must be worked out, not just for the artists on the stage, but also for this great city," said Nathan Carlisle, a member of AGMA.

NY1 spoke with some opera fans outside of Lincoln Center, who were hopeful that opening night will go on as planned on September 22.

"It looks like they're doing the best that they can," said one fan. "They are reasoning it out, and I hope there's a compromise."

"It's a difficult time for all musical organizations, isn't it? It's just really tough. It's hard to find the money to run them," said another. "I hope they find it. I hope they come up with the money and open the season on time."

If not, it will be the first disrupted season for the Met in three decades.

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