Met Opera Workers Rally For Fair Contract To Stay Out Of Poverty

Met Opera Workers Rally For Fair Contract To Stay Out Of Poverty

New York, NY—Hundreds of Met Opera workers and community members rallied Thursday evening to protest a contract proposal they said would push them to the brink of poverty. Workers also objected to the threat of a lock out as their union 32BJ has been bargaining in good faith and working hard to reach a deal that would help Met Opera save money and protect workers and their families.

“I love my job at Met Opera,” said Lisa Segura, a security guard at Met Opera and a single mom who lives in the Bronx. “Right now I make enough to get by and pay my bills, but with what Met Opera is proposing, I couldn’t make it. I don’t know what I would do.”

Met Opera management recently threatened to lock out its workers if an agreement wasn’t reached by July 31 when 15 of 16 union contracts expire. For the 150 security guards, ticket takers, ushers, cleaners, matrons, safety persons, freight elevator operators and office clerks who make between $17 and $22 an hour, a lock out would be devastating. They would lose their health care unless they could scrape together $1,255 for individual COBRA coverage or $2,793 for family COBRA coverage.

Met opera office clerk Edward Florencio’s wife just gave birth to their first child earlier this week, and they will lose their health coverage if there is a lock out.

“The medical is very important to me,” said Florencio, who makes $17 an hour and lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “My wife can’t go right back to work after the baby.”

But workers said Met Opera’s proposal to cut benefits would make it difficult to make ends meet. Bob Pelegrino has worked as a cleaner at Met Opera for 12 years and is battling skin cancer and a heart valve problem.

“Do you not go to the doctor?” said Pelegrino, 59, father of two. “It’s a horror story for every older person. What do you choose?”

Under Met Opera’s contract proposal for 32BJ members, a single person could pay as much as $6,000 a year for health coverage and for workers with families, it could be as much as $12,000 (including a $4,000 deductible and up to $12,000 in total out of pocket costs). That’s close to 30% percent of an average full-time worker’s pay and more than half of what part-time workers make.

“Our members cannot afford a lock-out and they cannot afford Met Opera’s proposal – either option hurts the workers and their families too much,” said Shirley Aldebol, vice president of 32BJ SEIU. “We also object to Met Opera’s threat of a lock-out. We have been bargaining in good faith and working hard to find a solution that would help Met Opera save money without pushing our members to the brink of poverty. We plan on continuing to bargain until we can agree on a deal that’s fair for everyone.”


With more than 145,000 members, including 75,000 in New York City, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.

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