An Update from the Met
The Met is instituting a lock-out of its Local One–represented employees (stagehands), effective at midnight tonight. Even though we’ve had a number of bargaining sessions over the last four months since our contract with Local One expired, and have repeatedly offered to meet with greater frequency, we have not made any meaningful progress toward a new agreement with necessary cost reductions and no-strike protections.
The loss of months of the 2019–20 Met season and the entire 2020–21 season because of the health crisis has compounded existing financial difficulties for the Met, as it has for other arts organizations. Like most of those other organizations, the Met must achieve an economic reset. As two-thirds of our annual costs are pay and benefits for our unionized employees, such a reset must include cost reductions in these areas. As part of a multi-year agreement, we are seeking cost savings of 30% of the payroll for employees represented by Local One, while committing to restore half of those reductions when the Met’s box office and core donations reach certain pre-pandemic benchmarks. We also are offering to provide pay of up to $1,500 per week to all Local One furloughed full-time employees from the day a deal is reached through next summer, to provide assistance and support during this time, which we know is so extraordinarily financially challenging.
We recognize the enormity of the sacrifice that 30% reductions represent and seek them only because it is absolutely necessary to ensure the Met’s survival. Along with other opera companies, we have been conducting audience research since shortly after we closed in the spring, which suggests the return of audiences, once we are able to reopen, will likely be slow. A recent study commissioned by NYC & Co reported in The New York Times in November forecast that tourism levels in the city would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025. Therefore, we must significantly reduce our costs to weather what is likely to be a continued period of financial strain.
The Met remains hopeful that it will come to an agreement with Local One and other unions, and that together the Met will see its way through to the other side of this historic crisis as a stronger, economically sustainable organization. The future of the Met depends upon it.