Metropolitan Opera might lock out union workers

The Metropolitan Opera has threatened in a letter that it might lock out union workers if a new contract is not agreed upon.

The letter sent to union workers by general manager Peter Gelb threatens the lockout "if we are not able to reach agreements by July 31 that would enable the Met to operate on an economically sound basis, please plan for the likelihood of a work stoppage beginning Aug. 1," The New York Times reports.

All but one of the 16 unions have expiring deals and Gelb is looking to reduce both pay and benefits as part of the new contracts. The unions were not at all happy to receive the letter and American Guild of Musical Artists executive director Alan S. Gordon noted he does not believe there is any chance a deal will be reached before the end of the month.

"He has no intention of actually reaching an agreement by Aug. 1 unless it's his agreement," Gordon, whose union represents chorus and other members, said. "Once he locks out employees, his relationship with the performers at the Met is over. They will never respect him again."

The unions have noted that a work stoppage could potentially interfere with the upcoming Met Opera season, according to Reuters. The 2014-15 season is set to begin Sept. 22 and the first performance is Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro."

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Met has not had a stoppage in over 30 years, with the last one coming in 1980. It took 11 weeks for a deal to be struck and the Met didn't open its doors to guests until December.

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