Today we begin negotiations with the Met. Late last month, we reached an agreement with the Met to sit down for eight weeks to try to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). This marks the beginning of what will likely be a difficult and challenging negotiation. The Met has been very public about its financial situation and the cuts it is seeking from all of its unions. We want to be equally clear: we cannot and will not allow cuts in compensation that threaten the livelihoods of our fellow Artists or the artistic integrity of the Company.
We are clear-eyed that the Met has significant financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and we are willing to work with the Met to help it survive this difficult time. But we also know that the Artists are the Met, and without AGMA Artists, there is no Metropolitan Opera. Any solutions to the Met’s difficulties must therefore be rational, creative, and put the interests and needs of the Artists first, ensuring that our members who make their livelihood at the Met can continue to do so and that the Met as an institution can continue to attract and retain the best Artists in the world.
The opera industry stands at a crossroads and that presents us with an opportunity to make real changes for the better in the way opera is conducted at the Met and around the world. Over the past year, the 34-person Met AGMA committee, made up of Choristers, Soloists, Dancers, Stage Managers, Staff Performers, and Stage Directors, has held meetings, surveyed our colleagues, and worked with our fellow Met Artists to prioritize what is important to all the Artists of the Met.
What are we fighting for?
- Safe and effective return-to-work COVID-19 protocols
- Representation on the Board of Directors
- Anti-racism and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion contract provisions to make the Met safe, equal, and just for all Artists
- More efficient and fair usage of Artists in the opera house
- Representation and protections for Met Artists regardless of where the Met performs: on the Met stage, in outside venues, and in digital captures
- Guaranteed input on the decisions at the Met that influence Artists lives and livelihoods
- Closing the “Media Loophole” that has allowed for free streaming of Artists’ work on the Met website without compensation
- Audition protocols for all Artists that are equitable, respectful, and accountable.
- Increased safety protocols to address air quality, under-rehearsal, supervision, and protections for Artists who speak up with safety concerns.
- Increased job security for per-performance Artists, including soloists, dancers, and extra choristers.
- Benefits for soloists and a restructuring of principal artist contracts to reduce risk
The next few months will be challenging, but this is a moment of opportunity. We recognize that, given the Met’s stature in the opera world, changes at the Met can influence the way opera is produced, rehearsed, and performed throughout the entire industry, across the globe. That’s why we’re reaching out, not only to our Met Artists but to all AGMA Artists for their support, because this is a fight for all AGMA Artists, not just the ones who work at the Met.
Our Negotiating Committee Communications Team will send out weekly updates on bargaining to Met Artists via email (we encourage you to forward these emails on to friends!) and through social media. To avoid email fatigue, all other AGMA membership will receive less-frequent updates than that but are encouraged to follow our Met AGMA groups on social media: @MetOperaChorus @MetOperaSupers @MetOperaBallet. These accounts are run by AGMA Artists!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ned Hanlon, Negotiating Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org, Eastern Counsel Sam Wheeler, email@example.com, or any of your delegates and committee members.
Your Met AGMA Negotiating Committee:
Ned Hanlon, Committee Chair; Ross Benoliel, Chorister; Richard Bernstein, Soloist; Shay Bland, Dancer; Helena Brown, Extra Chorister; Antuan Byers, Dancer; Stephanie Chigas, Chorister; Lianne Coble-Dispensa, Chorister; Jōvan Dansberry, Dancer; Karen Dixon, Chorister; Anne Dyas, Staff Performer; Tobin Eason, Dancer; Ashley Emerson, Soloist; Kenneth Floyd, Chorister; Katharine Goeldner, Soloist; David Gonsier, Dancer; Katherine Hozier, Dancer; Mary Hughes, Chorister; Nathaniel Hunt, Dancer; Matthew Kernisky, Staff Performer; Jarrod Lee, Extra Chorister; Shawna Lucey, Stage Director; Megan Marino Mayes, Soloist; Brandon Mayberry, Chorister; Scott Moon, Stage Manager; Maria Phegan, Dancer; Daniel Rigazzi, Stage Director; Mark Schowalter, Soloist; Elizabeth Sciblo, Soloist Delegate; Bradley Schelver, Dancer; Marcus Shields, Stage Director; Daniel Smith, Chorister; Andrew Stenson, Soloist; Sarah Weber-Gallo, Dancer