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Subject: Bold union move in Met contract talks
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 5 May 2014 08:39:36 -0700

text/plain (38 lines)

[in all the years covering such stories, I haven't come across a move like this]

May 4, 2014, 9:16 p.m. ET
Met, Singers at Odds Over Public Talks
By Jennifer Maloney

The Metropolitan Opera is scheduled to kick off high-stakes negotiations on Monday with an unusually public standoff: Despite management's objections, the singers' union has invited members of the media.

As a result, the Met has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board even before across-the-table talks begin.

"The Met wants to work with...unions in an atmosphere that encourages open and transparent dialogue, which is critical to a productive negotiation," a Met spokesman said. "Obviously, this cannot be achieved by having the press at the bargaining table."

Union leader Alan Gordon, who represents singers, dancers and stage managers, said he is pushing for more transparency as the Met for the first time in decades seeks to cut labor costs. The Met is seeking to cut pay for members of the three biggest unions by more than 16%.

Union leaders are preparing for a potential lockout.

"This is supported by public money," Mr. Gordon said. "If the Met's going to go dark, people should know what's going on."

The Met, faced with declining ticket sales, an insufficient endowment and growing expenses, is hoping for a financial reset.

Its operating budget grew to $327 million last year from $209 million in 2006, when general manager Peter Gelb took the helm.

In a memo to company members on Saturday, Mr. Gelb said the Met's board has agreed to rebuild the opera's depleted endowment on the condition that he achieve labor-cost savings.<snip>

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