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December 31, 2020IM -
In response to the lockout by the Metropolitan Opera against Local One stagehands, members of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG) issued the following statement on December 9:
As an affiliate of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds (COBUG), International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local One stagehands do not stand alone in the lockout by the Metropolitan Opera. All of the affiliates—many of whom are facing the same draconian, long term wage and condition cuts from the Met Opera management—stand united with our sisters, brothers, and kin in Local One.
While workers are furloughed and waiting for live performances to safely return, the Metropolitan Opera has conditioned limited supplemental financial assistance on the unconscionable demand that workers accept 30% cuts in wages and less favorable working conditions, all of which would last well past the COVID pandemic and the return of live performances. In addition, stagehands were told they must accept this “deal” or be locked out of their employment, despite already being furloughed and unemployed.
New Yorkers pride ourselves on coming together in any crisis to help one another for the greater good. Stagehands are no different. As the COVID pandemic has brought live performances to a halt, we have seen stagehands use their skills to volunteer to help the greater NYC community. They are volunteering by building face shields for medical workers, assisting in making facemasks and PPE, and helping Encore Community Services to provide food assistance for those living in Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District. All of this has been happening while these same members of the theatrical community face a lack of work, uncertainty about when work will return, unemployment assistance expiring, food insecurities, concerns about housing, and seeing friends, coworkers, and loved ones get ill or sadly succumb to the COVID virus.
Sadly, in contrast with the civic spirit of a resilient NYC and its people, the Metropolitan Opera is using this pandemic to its own benefit to lower worker pay and eliminate conditions at work for perpetuity under the guise of short-term financial assistance that may not even last until performances can once again reopen.
COBUG’s members understand and see the choice Local One stagehands are faced with and will stand together with them. To borrow a phrase from the NYC stagehands—“We are all One!”