The head of the Metropolitan Opera warned musicians, singers, stagehands, and other employees Wednesday to prepare for a lockout by management if they do not agree on a new contract by the end of the month, writes The New York Times.
The letter from General Manager Peter Gelb lent new urgency to stalled talks with 15 unions representing opera workers whose deals expire July 31. The Met is seeking changes in work rules and benefits that would cut 16 percent from its $200-million annual labor bill. The opera has struggled with declining box office revenues and become reliant on its endowment to cover expenses, circumstances Mr. Gelb has warned could lead to bankruptcy.
The work stoppage would be the first at the Met since a bitter 11-week lockout in 1980. Union leaders, who have blamed Mr. Gelb's management for financial problems, responded angrily to the lockout threat. "He has no intention of actually reaching an agreement by Aug. 1 unless it's his agreement," said Alan S. Gordon, head of the American Guild of Musical Artists. "Once he locks out employees, his relationship with the performers at the Met is over."