Met Opera’s deal with its chorister saves less


The union, representing the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, halted calls for a 30 percent reduction in payroll costs, which the company said it needed to avoid an epidemic. But the contract for which it was temporarily agreed would save millions by cutting salaries slightly, moving members to the union’s health insurance plan, and reducing the size of the regular chorus.

The American Guild of Musical Artists was the first of the Met’s major unions to enter into an agreement with the company on epidemic pay cuts. Its members – including soloists, dancers, actors and stage managers – are currently learning about the specifics of the deal and are still voting on whether to confirm it.

For months, the Met’s management has said it wants to cut payroll costs by 30 percent for their highest-paid unions, which would effectively cut their take-home pay by about 20 percent. It said that half of its proposed pay cut would be reinstated once ticket revenue and main donations were returned to the former level.

But according to the deal outline provided by the union, on a temporary four-year contract the guild agreed to include cost savings, which seem to be less than that target. (The union declined to specify the total value of the deduction, and the weather refused to provide details.)

Most categories of employees representing the union, including choristers, will have a 3.7 percent reduction in their salaries, most of which will be reinstated after three years. For soloists who get paid per performance, the cut is deeper, with the highest-paid soloists seeing a 12.7 percent reduction that will be fully restored in three years.

There is no provision in the deal that makes pay restitution contingent on box office numbers or donations.

“Given what the Met was originally seeking in concessions, I think this temporary agreement was actually the most appropriate resolution for our members,” said the Guild’s National Executive Director Leonard Eggert.

As Broadway shows put tickets back on sale and performing arts groups in New York City plan their comebacks, the Met’s plan to return to its stage in September is threatened by controversial labor disputes. While the deal is a sign of hope, the Met is involved in tense negotiations with the union representing the orchestra, and is yet to resume formal negotiations with the union, which closed since late last year is.

The Met, which says it has lost $ 150 million in earned revenue because the coronovirus epidemic forced it to close its doors more than a year ago, said in a statement, “For the Met’s plan It is very important to reopen in September that AGMA members ratify the agreement. “

Guild officials said the Met would save more than $ 2 million by removing members of the guild from its health insurance plan and the union’s plan. Employees may have to change doctors and possibly pay more in health care costs, said Sam Wheeler, a guild officer who helped negotiate the deal.

To save money, the guild has allowed the Met to reduce its regular, full-time chorus from 80 to 74 members, with a position scheduled to be restored at the end of the contract. Guild officials said the positions would be cut through dismissal and not through termination.

“It was a great gift for the chorus,” Wheeler said, “but it was part of a shared sacrifice that we hope will open the Met.”

The agreement includes several provisions that address diversity and inclusion efforts at the Met, which Appointed its first Chief Diversity Officer earlier this year.

The Met agreed to send an annual report to the Guild about its effort to recruit applicants from underrepresented groups; Create a Committee on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion attached to the Guild; To initiate a demographic survey of its employees which includes questions about race and sexual orientation; Involve an organization to develop racial justice training for the weather staff; And to ensure that hairstylists and makeup artists have the “cultural competence” when it comes to working with artists of color.

The deal also adds language to specify that contracts of guild members can be canceled if they engage in some type of serious misconduct – a remedy that was not in the previous contract. The Met proposed an ethical clause that would have allowed it to terminate a contract under broader circumstances, but the final agreement limited it to “really serious conduct”, said Alicia Cook, a Guild spokesman.

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