The battle of the management-labor emails continues with Alan Gordon demanding Peter Gelb fire his driver.

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:04 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Response to Peter Gelb’s Letter to Prtincipal Artists

Dear Peter:

(With copies to all AGMA-represented Met employees)

Your recent letter to all of the Met’s unionized employees is, regrettably, once again filled with shameful misstatements. You owe your employees, the people who actually are the Metropolitan Opera, a greater level of truth and transparency.

Your statement “The Met’s initial proposals seek cost reductions of 16.4%. That includes our proposals on wages (through work rule changes), health, and retirement benefits.” Is simply not true and mathematically impossible. In point of fact, the changes you propose in compensation alone would reduce take-home-pay by some 20-30% and, for some parts of the bargaining unit, as much as 50-60%. Your health insurance proposal, per se, would increase family medical expenses by $15,000 annually. And, to the extent that we can understand your proposed changes in the Met’s pension plan (we are hampered in this regard because of your continuing refusal to respond to our information request about your pension proposals) would reduce pensions by 40% for most people, more for newer employees. Your proposal to eliminate Health Plan B is, separately, an additional 3% reduction in compensation. You simply do not understand the actual extent of the devastation that your proposals would inflict on the Met’s employees.

Your statement: “We have informed AGMA that if it has an alternative proposal as to how to achieve a comparable reduction in AGMA labor costs, we would be happy to hear it. AGMA has so far ignored us.” is, likewise, nothing but obfuscation. In point of fact, it is you who have ignored our requests for the truth about the effect of your proposals so that we could respond to them, ignored our requests for safety changes that would prevent a reoccurrence the horrible tragedy that the Met visited upon Wendy White and ignored our proposal to reduce expenses through an oversight structure that would rein in your out of control spending to achieve a comparable reduction.

Your statement: “ We have provided a great deal of costing information to AGMA to back up our numbers …” is not true. The information you’ve provided to us is useless in evaluating the effect of your proposals, as you apparently intended it to be, because it is based on past seasons and not on the seasons that your proposals would actually affect.

Your comment “one thing beyond dispute is that cost reductions are necessary to the Met’s survival”, may be literally true but hides the facts. Actually, the cost reductions the Met needs to adopt are reductions in your run-away, unregulated spending and excessive draws on the endowment.

Your comment: “We want to reach an agreement.” Is belied by your actions. It is clear to every member of our negotiating committee that your intent is to bad-faith surface bargain, stone-wall the negotiations, and then lock out employees in an attempt to bully them or con them into accepting your proposals.

Your comment “As you know, the audience for opera has been shrinking, which is a major factor in why the New York City Opera has gone out of business…” is not at all the reason that City Opera went out of business. There, as with the Met, the nonsense business plan imposed by the management and the Board coupled with similar out of control spending, made the Opera unsustainable, even after the employees agreed to deep concessions. Unless we can stop you, your spending (especially that on new productions which are not supported by ticket buyers, and on HD productions which are cannibalizing the live audience) will do the same to the Met. We can not let that happen.

Your statement “we must reduce our overall costs in order to achieve a sustainable business model.” is absurd. First, you have admitted that your “sustainable business model” is nothing other than ‘spend less, earn more’, even after it has repeatedly been pointed out to you that ‘spend less, earn more’ is neither a business model or a business plan. Second, it’s you and your failing artistic vision that has increased Met expenses by $100 Million.

We note that while you continue to ask employees to reduce costs, the first and most egregious cost to be cut should be the Met-paid, with full Met benefits and pension, cost of your personal chauffer. To maintain this ludicrous and wholly unnecessary perk in the face of the devastation that your proposals would do to employees is both offensive to decency and nothing short of disgusting.

If you want the help of your employees in promoting the fiscal and artistic viability of the Met, you are going to have to accept that those employees, in turn, have the right to oversee, advise and consent with regard to your plans, your strategy (both operationally and artistically) and your spending. The AGMA negotiating committee made it clear to you that the only way in which the union and its members would consider helping you stabilize the Met’s finances were 1) If you accepted some measure of oversight by the performers to control your astronomically increased spending and 2) If you agree to reverse the waste, excess and extravagance that have thus far been the hallmark of your current administration, rather than continuing in your attempt to destroy the lives and livelihoods of the Met’s employees.

Your vacuous compliments to our members will not dissuade them from their determination to force you to confront the truth.