Met reaches agreement with major unions, hopes to avoid lockout

By Andrew Lapin

The Met is one step closer to avoiding lockout after securing its musicians' unions. Above: Ildar Abdrazakov in the Met's production of "Prince Igor." (Photo: Cory Weaver/Metropolitan)

Ildar Abdrazakov in the Met’s production of Prince Igor. The Met is one step closer to avoiding a lockout after reaching an agreement with its musicians’ unions.  (Photo: Cory Weaver/Metropolitan)

The Metropolitan Opera has reached a tentative agreement with two of the three bargaining units representing its workers and remains hopeful that it can avoid a season lockout and preserve public media’s broadcasts of Met performances.

Agreements with the units representing the Met’s orchestra and choral workers were announced shortly after 6 a.m. Eastern time, though details of negotiations were not released. The announcement came six hours after the union contracts were set to expire, following three short-term extensions granted as part of negotiations that began July 31.

The Met will continue negotiating with a union representing stage hands, electrical workers and carpenters, and nine smaller unions representing other employees, according to The Associated Press. These units sat out the just-concluded negotiations to see what kind of deal the Met reached with the musicians, according to the Wall Street Journal. A new deadline for the remaining unsettled contracts has been set for midnight Tuesday.

“We remain hopeful that the company’s 2014-15 season will open on schedule,”the Met said in a Monday statement announcing the successful agreements and deadline extension. The season premiere is set for Sept. 22.

“These were difficult and highly complex negotiations, and I wish to commend the parties for their resolve in addressing multiple and complex issues,” Allison Beck, deputy director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said in a statement.

The Met self-distributes Saturday matinee performances to about 300 radio stations, most of them public, and archives its Live in HD movie theater series for airings on PBS and WNET’s Great Performances @ The Met.

Anticipating a possible lockout, the WFMT Radio Network is preparing an alternate slate of weekend programming for classical stations to air in place of the Met.

Peter Gelb, GM of the Met and a credited e.p. on Great Performances broadcasts of Met shows, had asked for a 17 percent pay cut from workers to help offset a nearly $3 million budget deficit.

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