|By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press|
A federal mediator arrived Thursday to help make a deal between unions and general manager
At issue are the Met's finances. Gelb has demanded that the unions accept salary cuts of about 17 percent, to cover a deficit of
But 15 unions representing about 2,500 chorus singers, orchestra musicians, stagehands, carpenters and others say they'll lose as much as 30 percent of their income through additional pension cuts and higher health care costs.
Union chorus members earn a base pay of
Gelb says the salaries of union members represent about two-thirds of company costs and that's where cuts should be made to balance shrinking ticket sales, a depleted endowment and rising operating costs.
The artists say any doubled income is due to Gelb's insistence on staging expensive new productions that got bad reviews but required a lot of overtime, such as Wagner's "Ring" cycle. They say they're bearing the brunt of his decisions.
"We're in at
She's made contingency plans ahead of a possible lockout, sprucing up her resume for jobs in hospital administration.
Union members have frequently cited the Met's "extreme waste," including the
With a lockout looming, one singer who took her child to the doctor was told the Met could cut off insurance on Friday.
"This is going to have fingers reaching far into the world," chorus soprano
If the mediator doesn't succeed, the largest classical music organization in
Even if talks lead to a compromise, some spectators already have refrained from buying tickets, leery of performances that may not happen in the 3,800-seat theater.
A sleep-deprived Gelb, who has been the Met's general manager since
"But I'm on a mission," he said. "I took this job to keep the opera going, not to shut it down. Nobody wants a lockout. What I want is a deal."
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