Following Lyric Opera of Chicago's announcement on the cancelation of its season, AGMA sent the following email to AGMA Artists of Lyric Opera of Chicago:
You are receiving this email because you’ve worked at Lyric Opera of Chicago in the past season or were scheduled to work for Lyric Opera during this season. We are reaching out because today Lyric Opera announced the cancellation of the remainder of the 2020-2021 season. To say AGMA is disappointed is the understatement of the year.
For those who were not able to join AGMA last night at our emergency shop meeting, we feel it is necessary at this moment to update you on the status of our negotiations with Lyric Opera of Chicago and what today’s announcement means for Artists.
Yesterday, your AGMA Negotiation Committee met with Lyric Opera in order to reach agreement on an Interim Bargaining Agreement that would provide some income for our members and a guarantee of health insurance coverage for those members who qualified for it for this season. Despite having met on several occasions and honing the issues, Lyric Opera suddenly pulled their proposal completely off the table. They said that they would not even discuss an Interim Bargaining Agreement with us in the future. They told us that they were only willing to negotiate the Basic Agreement, and would consider additional payments to our members and a guarantee of health insurance for qualified Artists only if we agreed to their proposed changes.
This morning, Lyric Opera announced that it was canceling the remaining productions for the 2020-2021 Season. At the same time the announcement went public, Lyric Opera held a video conference with their Artists to inform them of the cancellations. These Artists, concerned about the status of their contracts and whether their health insurance would be affected, were not permitted to ask questions or press the issue further during the meeting.
Lyric Opera’s cancellation of the season and refusal to address their Artist’s concerns is heartless. Moreover, their refusal to commit to healthcare coverage to our members in the midst of a pandemic is appalling.
AGMA will not tolerate this. We will reach out again soon with more specifics as to our plans and strategies. We will need your help, efforts and talents; the fight isn’t over yet. We are AGMA, and we will endure.
John Ward, Midwest Counsel
Len Egert, National Executive Director