The Met Opera Management and Stagehands Reach a Tentative Deal

Two out of three of the company's unions have now reached a deal over a new contract, following a lockout in late 2020

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After nearly four weeks of negotiation, the Met and the union to which its stagehands belong — Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — have struck a deal.

The agreement offers a resolution to a dispute over an incident from late last year. Following a disagreement regarding the nature of pandemic pay cuts, the Met imposed a lockout on their 300 stagehands. The New York Times described the incident as "one of the most serious labor disputes to erupt in the culture world since the coronavirus pandemic halted performances around the globe."

The Met, which has been closed since March 2020, says it has lost over $150 million in revenue during the pandemic, and that therefore it was necessary to cut the payroll costs of union members by 30%. But many union members have already been without pay for months and found this suggestion difficult to swallow.

As a consequence of the lockout, the Met outsourced some of its set-building labor to workers in Wales and California. Union members were fully aware, however, that those sets still require hours of work before they are ready for use, and that if a deal was not reached, the company would struggle to re-open in time for its 2021-22 season.

While the details of the deal have not officially been shared publicly, Spectrum News has reported that they include a 3% wage cut and a 4.5% annuity cut for three years.