Tentative Agreement Likely in N.Y. City Opera Strike

A tentative agreement in the New York City Opera strike should be reached in the next few days, according to key people involved in the dispute.

Agreement could come as early as today in the seven-week strike by the NYCO orchestra, according to Judy West, spokeswoman for Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. The orchestra has been on strike since Sept. 13, causing management to officially cancel the fall opera season on Oct. 12.

Martin J. Oppenheimer, vice chairman of City Opera and its chief labor negotiator, while optimistic, did not believe an agreement was possible today. "We are very hopeful. It is apparent now that both sides want to reach agreement. I can't give you a time frame, but we should have everything worked out by early next week."

Oppenheimer would not confirm that management had abandoned its demand to reduce the number of guaranteed work weeks or provide supplemental income stipulated in the previous contract, which had been one of the major issues. "Neither side will give details until the final agreement is worked out," he said, "but I believe the spring season will be saved." He was referring to the musical comedy season that is to open Feb. 26 with "The Sound of Music."

After an impasse when the strike began, negotiations began in earnest Monday when the company presented a new proposal. Meetings have continued every day this week.

Another important major issue to be resolved is the orchestra's desire for payment parity with the orchestras of the San Francisco Opera and the Chicago Lyric.

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