Union Drama at the Metropolitan Opera

By Rich Lowry


The fat lady will sing -- but only in strict keeping with the work rules set out by the American Guild of Musical Artists. The Metropolitan Opera has a labor problem. Personnel expenses account for $200 million of the financially struggling Met’s $327 million budget. In the interest of survival in an era more attuned to “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” than “Le Nozze di Figaro,” the Met wants to reduce its labor costs by 16 percent by getting the unions to accept common-sensical work rules and less-generous pension and health benefits. The unions say no and accuse the Met of waging war on their families. The storied but precarious institution could see its next season disrupted in the labor discord. The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, warns that without union flexibility, the very existence of the world-famous, 130-year-old opera is at risk.
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