May 18, 2023 - The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Central City Opera (CCO) reached a new five-year collective bargaining agreement, beginning May 19, 2023, and running through September 1, 2027. The AGMA Board of Governors, acting through its Executive Council, ratified the agreement earlier today.
“This was a long and challenging negotiation, but, in the end, we were able to reach an agreement that protects the safety and welfare of artists working at CCO,” said Sam Wheeler, National Executive Director of AGMA. “A lot of people deserve credit for this agreement. Thank you to our incredible Negotiating Committee, to the Central City Opera bargaining unit, to our staff negotiators and outside counsel, to our sibling unions, and to everyone across the country, AGMA member or not, who displayed solidarity with the CCO Artists over the past several months. I also want to thank the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for the role they played in bringing us to a deal.”
The agreement includes many improvements for AGMA Artists, including comprehensive DEI language, up-front payments for principals, increases to wages and retirement benefits, holiday pay, and increased protections for members who experience harassment or discrimination at work.
Most importantly, AGMA was able to preserve pay-or-play, guarantee that every artist receives a valid and enforceable Individual Artist Agreement, ensure coverage for all bargaining unit work during the festival season, maintain robust paid sick leave, and ensure that all bargaining unit work is performed by bargaining unit members and not subcontracted. AGMA was also able to insist that the agreement cover this season, rather than starting in September.
On May 8, following six months of bargaining, public statements, and a potential work stoppage, the parties met with professional mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for the first time, at AGMA’s request. Later that week, on May 12, AGMA announced positive movement had been made with Central City Opera and that the parties were on track to reach an agreement in time for the festival season. The AGMA Negotiating Committee at CCO stated at the time, “The solidarity displayed by the AGMA community carried and motivated our Negotiating Committee through these emotional months. We thank you for your support.”