Apr 08, 2014

By Scott Walker

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Another American cultural institution is facing a contentious labour dispute.

This time, it’s the Metropolitan Opera.

The MET is suffering from dwindling box office revenue and increasing labour costs. It’s having to appeal more often to donors and draw from its shrinking endowment fund.

Contracts with the MET’s 16 unions are up in July, and the company is asking employees to accept an average pay cut of 16 per cent.

Not surprisingly, the unions are balking, calling on the company to find savings elsewhere in its $327-million budget.

The American Guild of Musical Artists represents chorus members, who reportedly earn an average of $200,000 a year. The union and the MET have already begun sniping back and forth over the choice of where negotiations should be held. The Guild is warning its members of a possible lockout next season.

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