(Credit: Jonathan Tichler / Met Opera)
The IATSE is joining the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on Thursday, May 13 for the rally “We are the Met.”
In a statement, the union, which represents 350 stagehands and other Met members, said “The performing arts are returning — but not the Metropolitan Opera. On Thursday, May 13 at noon, hundreds of the Met Opera’s artists and backstage workers, joined by government leaders and supporters of labor and opera, will send a message that the famed opera company’s management needs to stop its unfair treatment of its workforce and end its lockout of stagehands — or there will be no 2020-2021 opera season.”
The rally will include artists, stagehands, backstage workers, opera supporters, state and local elected leaders and will protest the Met Opera’s unfair treatment of workers, lockout of stagehands, and the outsourcing overseas of the work of the Met Opera’s musicians and skilled craftspeople.
The IATSE also noted, “The Metropolitan Opera’s management has used COVID-19 as leverage to seek long-term, take-it-or-leave-it 30-percent wage cuts for all of the opera company’s unionized employees, including stagehands, opera singers and musicians. The cuts are to remain in effect long after audiences return to their seats.”
In December the the Met Opera’s management locked out stagehands and reportedly sent production work to a company in Wales for two operas, “Rigoletto” and “Don Carlos.” Additionally, the sets for the season premiere of “Fire Shut up in my Bones” were sent to a non-union production operation on the west coast.
The Metropolitan Opera reportedly lost $150 million during the pandemic and General Manager Peter Gelb insists on long-term pay cuts to offset those losses. According to the New York Times, those cuts have already been made by a number of other leading orchestras.
IATSE has threatened that if the Met does not come to an agreement the 2021-22 season will not open. Meanwhile, the company has announced a return to the stage on Sunday May 16 for a special concert featuring Angel Blue and Eric Owens and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.