IATSE Local One Says Metropolitan Opera Will Not Open in 2021

By Francisco Salazar

The IATSE Local One (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) has stated that the Metropolitan Opera is unlikely to reopen in 2021.

The union, which represents the stagehands, technicians, and skilled craftspeople, noted that the current lockout of its workers is likely to continue for the next months.

In December, the Met locked out workers and has since remained closed and the company’s management has refused to negotiate fairly, insisting on 30 percent, take-it-or-leave-it wage cuts that would remain in effect long after audiences return to the theater.

IATSE Local One President James J. Claffey Jr. noted the situation is not a case of workers withholding their labor and stated, “This is Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manger, and his board, locking the doors, refusing to sincerely come to the bargaining table and cruelly inflicting harm on our members already hurt by the pandemic. This is shameful behavior.”

He added the Metropolitan Opera is the only arts company in America that has locked out its workers and said “other performing arts companies are raising funds from patrons and rallying support around helping their workers during this long, unprecedented intermission in the arts.”

The union also noted that the Met sent production work for “Don Carlos” and “Rigoletto” to Wales and “Fire Shut up in My Bones” to the West Coast. Loeb accused Gelb of betraying his workers stating “Gelb has denied the workers an income and worse has outsourced their work overseas at a time when they could use employment since they have been unable to work because of the pandemic.”

IATSE has reached out to donors, including the Ford Foundation, and elected leaders to ask them to withhold support for the Met Opera until negotiations resume.

According to Union officials, Gelb was paid over $2.1 million in combined pay and benefits for running the nonprofit, according to the Metropolitan Opera’s 2020 filing.

The union also claimed “He is sitting out the pandemic in a luxury midtown apartment provided by the opera company. While he claims not to be taking compensation currently, his pay will likely be made up later through deferred compensation or bonuses.”

At the start of the pandemic, Gelb announced that he was forfeiting his 1.4 million salary during the time the company would be shuttered. The Metropolitan Opera is slated to reopen its 2021-22 season on Sept. 27 with Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut up in my Bones.” The company is currently presenting its Met Live Concert series which continues on May 8, 2021.

OperaWire has reached out to the Metropolitan Opera for further comments. We will be updated with further information.