The Metropolitan Opera and its 150 ushers, security guards, office clerks and other employees in the 32BJ SEIU building services worker union agreed in the wee hours of last Thursday night to a compromise which, after approval by union members in a vote on Monday, averts any potential work stoppages.
In a move which both saves the troubled cultural institution money but keeps the workers’ pensions intact at their current levels, officials with 32BJ agreed to lower annual raises than the previous five-year contract while transferring the employees’ health care to union’s own plan.
A day after Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb warned of a potential lockout over the troubled cultural institution’s contract negotiations with its employees, the union representing security guards, office clerks, ushers and other less-heralded workers are holding an afternoon rally to protest what it calls “Met Opera’s Poverty Proposal.”
The 150 Met employees who are part of 32BJ SEIU, the country’s largest property service worker union, are clamoring against significant reductions to their health and pension benefits in the Met’s proposed contract as the two sides close in on a looming deadline at the end of the month.
Metropolitan Opera officials struck a conciliatory tone in their first comments after the Met’s 32BJ SEIU security guards, porters and other full and part-time workers went public with their disgust over the Met’s proposed new contract, Commercial Observer has learned.
Met officials are circulating documents showing that the opera’s total labor costs rose from $185.9 million to $258.9 million between fiscal years 2006 and 2013, and they pointed out that the Met’s potential health care and pension cuts in its proposal for 150 32BJ workers would reduce those employees’ compensation on a smaller scale than the Met’s proposal for its performers.
Things could get rowdy when a consortium of elected officials including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn rallies near City Hall this afternoon to issue a report card to Joe Moinian’s The Moinian Group for alleged failings as a real estate developer and landlord.
The report card grades the developer – with letter grade “F” across the board – on tenant relations, safety, financial stability, vendor relations and the creation of good jobs.
“It’s going to be rowdy – we’re expecting hundreds of people,” said Jessica Ramos, a spokesperson for Build Up NYC, one of the groups spearheading the effort. “We want to create public support and awareness for them to be a responsible developer and build buildings with good jobs that actually help the economy.”