Met Opera stagehands to return to work after lockout

AP Entertainment

NEW YORK (AP) — Stagehands at the Metropolitan Opera planned to return to work Wednesday after recommending their union ratify a new labor contract negotiated following a lockout that started last year.

Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) said its full membership will vote July 18 on the agreement that was reached last weekend.

“As a result of an overwhelming majority of the Met’s stage and shop crew members voting in favor of submitting a positive recommendation to the full membership to ratify the agreement, IATSE Local One members are expected to begin work in the opera house starting tomorrow,” the union said in a statement Tuesday,

The stagehands’ contract expired last July 31 and the union had been locked out since Dec. 8. Bargaining resumed June 7.

“Getting to this point required overcoming hard feelings due to the lockout of our members and crafting some innovative solutions,” union president James J. Claffey said in a statement. “If talks had dragged on any longer it may have been impossible to prepare the opera house for a September opening. This agreement makes it possible for the 2021-2022 opera season to begin as scheduled.”

The Met had outsourced production of sets for several new stagings next season to companies for construction in Wales and on the West Coast.

“We’re pleased that our stagehands will now be immediately returning to work and that we have a clearer path to opening our season on schedule in September,” the Met said in a statement.

The Met reached an agreement in May with the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents the chorus. Its contract with Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, which represents the orchestra, expires July 31, and negotiations are ongoing.

The company has not performed since March 11, 2020, because of the pandemic, canceling 276 performances plus an international tour.

The Met announced plans to resume with a Verdi requiem on Sept. 11 to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The season is to start on Sept. 27 with the Met premiere of Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”

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