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July 31, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Proposes Mediation With Unions as Lockout Looms

The Metropolitan Opera proposed Wednesday that federal mediators be engaged to facilitate talks with the company's unions in the final hours before contracts expire, reports The New York Times.

Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, has threatened to lock out employees if a deal is not reached or significant progress made by Thursday night, when current deals for 15 of the opera's 16 unions run out.

The company, facing declining ticket sales and a dwindling endowment, is seeking changes in work rules and benefits to curb labor costs. Both sides say talks thus far have been contentious and unproductive.

Union leaders said they were amenable to the idea but expressed doubts that mediation would work under the current timetable. "We are considering it, and we believe it would have a much greater chance of success if Peter Gelb will back off his lockout threats and extend the current contract," said Tino Gagliardi, president of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians.