Metropolitan Opera, two unions agree to a weeklong extension

Metropolitan Opera, two unions agree to a weeklong extension; independent financial study to be conducted

The Metropolitan Opera in New York said on Saturday that the current contracts with two of its unions have been extended for approximately one week to allow for an independent study of the opera's finances.

The extension will affect the unions representing orchestral musicians and stage artists. Talks with other unions have been placed on hold temporarily. The Met said the decision Saturday was made in collaboration with a federal mediator.

The opera announced earlier last week that it had reached new contract agreements with three unions.

In all, the Met had been in negotiations with 15 unions prior to Friday's deadline. Opera management had been threatening to lock out union workers during the contentious talks but ended up extending the deadline by three days. 

The Met said analyst Eugene Keilin will conduct the financial study. Keilin has worked in the public and private financial sectors, including a period as chairman of the Municipal Assistance Corp. for New York City, an agency that helped to resolve New York's financial crisis during the mid-'70s. 

On Saturday, the Local 802, the union representing orchestral musicians, said the study is expected to produce a non-binding report that will assist the various parties in reaching new collective-bargaining agreements. 

James Odom, president of the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents stage artists including singers, dancers and stage directors, said in a prepared statement: "We are encouraged with this step forward that we believe will address the issues in contention and will ultimately lead to an agreement that is fair to everyone."

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