Metropolitan Opera unions agree to federal mediator ahead of possible lockout

By Kyle Johnson,

A federal mediator will wade into contract negotiations as the Metropolitan Theaters heads towards a possible lockout ahead of the 2014-15 season.

The chorus and orchestra unions agreed to the mediator, but it isn't known how helpful they will be with the current contracts expiring Thursday at midnight, The New York Times reports.

Bruce H. Simon, who is representing the American Guild of Musical Artists, said that the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service deputy director, Allison Beck, was chosen to help out.

"Stay focusd," Simon told the negotiating committee. "We have a single focus on going to work Friday morning, and getting paid our pay and benefits -- period, end of sentence, end of paragraph, end of story."

The Met general manager Peter Gelb, who has threatened to lock out 15 of the 16 unions with expiring deals, suggested bringing in a mediator. "If there is a willingness to compromise, and there certainly is on the part of the Met, a deal can be made quite quickly."

Last week Gelb send out a letter to the unions threatening a lockout should no deal be reached by midnight Thursday. The general manager has said that the Met's costs have grown too large and the unions needed to accept less pay.

The upcoming 2014-15 opera season kicks off on Sept. 22. The Met is scheduled to open with Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro."

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