IATSE Members Protest Metropolitan Opera in Virtual Picket Line

By Francisco Salazar

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is taking the fight against the Metropolitan Opera lockout online with a virtual picket line.

The picket line can be seen on MetOperaPicketLine.com and stagehands, costumer and wardrobe employees, lighting designers and technicians, set designers and craftsmen, make-up artists, broadcast technicians, and ticket sellers, along with other supporters, are taking part.

In a statement Jonas Loeb, IATSE’s director of communications, said, “Met Opera workers have a tremendous community standing beside them in solidarity, and our digital capabilities allow us to showcase that 24 hours a day, all across the world. If bosses like Met General Manager Peter Gelb are going to use an unprecedented pandemic as an excuse to reach into workers’ pockets and undercut their livelihood, we will respond with equally unprecedented and innovative digital tactics.”

In December, the Met Opera’s management presented IATSE Local One, which represents 350 of IATSE’s 800 members at the Met, with a take-it-or-leave-it, long-term 30 percent pay cut. When the locals and its members rejected the offer, management locked them out.

Since the lockout, the union claims the Met outsourced the production of sets for three of this season’s operas to nonunion shops and production companies overseas.

After seven months of no talks, formal or informal, the two sides began intensive bargaining the week of June 14. The Met needs to begin work backstage in order to open in September. The union says they will not return to work without a contract and have repeatedly noted that the new season will not open until 2022.