Metropolitan Opera has offered to start paying many employees who have been plagued without pay since April, up to $ 1,500 a week in return for new union agreements that include long-term pay cuts, the company’s general manager said at a staff meeting on Friday.
Two months after announcing that the curtains would not part again until the fall of 2021, Met’s CEO Peter Gelb said in a video call with Met employees that the company was willing to enter into an agreement with unions that would mean that its members would receive partial payslips throughout the pandemic. The catch: Employees will have to accept a 30 percent pay cut, half of which will be restored when the Met̵
Mr. Gelb predicted that even after the pandemic subsided, ticket sales would be depressed for several years, citing a recent study that said New York City was unlikely to reach its level before tourism by 2025. Another factor he cited is that the Met’s audience leans older, meaning they may be more reluctant to return to the 3,800-seat opera house.
“In order for the Met to get back on its feet, we will all have to make financial concessions and sacrifices,” said Mr. Gelb in the Zoom call, which was seen live by more than 500 people.
About 1,000 full-time employees, including its orchestra and choir, have been employed without pay since April. For many, it will be tempting to start receiving payslips again, which will make up 70 percent of their base salary and will be limited to $ 1,500 per week.
But unions will have to accept new contracts that reduce their workers’ wages to the home, which are often significantly more than their base wages, by 30 percent, mainly through a series of changes to labor rules.
The unions working with the Met are opposed to making such significant concessions that could affect workers long after the most severe effects of the pandemic subside, and have accused management of taking advantage of the outbreak to get them to agree on cost-saving measures. measures.
“Met’s opportunistic approach seeks to provide our contract permanently beyond the end of this crisis,” said Len Egert, CEO of the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the company’s choristers, stage directors and dancers in a statement. on Friday.
Sir. Egert said his union members “have no interest in selling their future to short-term relief.”
The pandemic has severely strained art institutions across the country, and even Met, the country’s largest performing arts organization, has not been spared. The Met’s economy was dangerous even before the virus hit: its annual budget is $ 300 million a year, and it earns less than a third of it through cash sales, leaving it heavily dependent on donors. The company has lost more than $ 150 million due to the shutdown, and its announcement in September that it was canceling the entire 2020-21 season signaled that the losses had only just begun.
A Met spokeswoman declined to say what type of changes to the work rules were under discussion because the company is in the middle of professional negotiations.
Part of the union’s opposition to the requested concessions is that half of the pay cuts will only be restored when the box office recovers, which could easily take years.
The Met’s box office was expected to earn $ 88 million in the 2019-20 season before being interrupted by the pandemic, Mr. Gelb, and the company projects that the next season, starting in the fall of 2021, will only raise about $ 49 million. Under his proposal, employees would still be paid 15 percent less than they had before the sale of the cash office before they were before the pandemic hit.