NEW YORK, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- New York's Metropolitan Opera reached a tentative agreement with two labor unions early Monday morning, and will continue negotiations with 10 more unions.
The Met reached an agreement with the Local 802 of the musicians' union and with the American Guild of Musical Artists, its orchestra and chorus, but details of the deal were not disclosed. In order to facilitate negotiations, the contract deadline for the other unions was extended to midnight Tuesday. Failure to reach an agreement will affect the opera's season, scheduled to start Sept. 22.
"We are grateful for their commitment to the collective bargaining process and grateful most of all that the Metropolitan Opera, one of the world's premier cultural institutions, will continue providing outstanding operas for all to enjoy," said Allison Beck, deputy director of the federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Met management had asked for a 17 percent pay cut, to account for rising production costs and shrinking audiences. They also wanted to slash pensions and health care benefits. Union members opposed the move saying the Met had a $2.8 million deficit on a budget of $326 million, and insisted management could find the savings elsewhere.
The mediators had stepped in last month to help broker a deal between management and the unions. The next step would be to reach a deal with another major union, Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents stage hands, carpenters and electricians.
A lockout would have been disastrous to all sides -- it would have shut down the theater, leaving workers without pay and keeping audiences away.
The seasons is set to begin September 22 with a new production of Mozart's Nozze di Figaro. Rehearsals are already under way, with young American soprano Amanda Majeski set to make her debut, and a failure to reach a deal will upend the schedule.