AGMA Publicly Questions Central City Opera Over ‘Draconian Proposals’ in Midst of CBA Negotiations

By David Salazar

Central City Opera (CCO) and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) have both issued statements regarding recent negotiation challenges between the two organizations.

AGMA recently took to social media to share a portion of an open letter it had written to the opera company regarding negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement between AGMA and Central City Opera that expired in August of 2022.

“In the last month alone, several AGMA Artists of Central City Opera have come forward with allegations of disturbing conduct,” AGMA published on its Facebook page. “Adding to this is that the company owes its Apprentice Artists about $12,000 in unpaid fees and they’ve hired an infamous union-busting law firm to assist them in contract negotiations. We’ve tried to communicate directly and privately with CCO’s Board of Directors. On November 21, the AGMA Bargaining Committee at Central City Opera sent a letter directly to the CCO Board imploring them to look into management’s exploitation of Apprentice Artists and allegations of public body shaming, sexual harassment, and overt threats of retaliation for union activity.”

The letter goes on to detail that Central City Opera had retained the services of Littler Mendelson P.C., “a notorious union-busting law firm currently engaged by Starbucks to crush their ongoing unionization effort, to represent it in negotiations. Our first day of bargaining was on November 1 and it was immediately made clear that CCO management drafted proposals in a transparent attempt to destroy the AGMA bargaining unit at CCO, in a bid to make Artists at CCO less empowered and less secure.”

Moreover, the letter questions many of the proposals that Central City Opera puts forth in its negotiations including “removing anti-sexual harassment language” from the CBA and removing “anti-harassment training.” Finally, the letter notes that “CCO has demanded in a recent information request that AGMA identify anyone who has complained of retaliation, even though these individuals have elected to remain anonymous to avoid unwanted consequences at work.”

The full letter is here.

OperaWire reached out to Central City Opera for comment on AGMA’s letter. The company’s response was as follows: “We’re proud of our long and storied history as a staunch advocate for opera and the arts in Colorado and across the country. We take great pride in our long-standing AGMA membership and the collaboration to create a fair and equitable working environment for our artists. We take the allegations presented very seriously and remain committed to the negotiating process with AGMA in order to reach a mutually beneficial resolution. Our position has been to refrain from public comments as we are still in active negotiations with AGMA. We are disappointed information has been made public without a full representation of both sides, however, we need to continue to refrain from specific comments so that we don’t jeopardize the ongoing negotiation process.”