It is deadline day for the Metropolitan Opera (Met) and if the organization and its union employees fail to reach an accord by midnight, it is expected that the employer will initiate a lock out. Over the past few days, union employees have been removing personal equipment and any other personal belongings they don’t want to go without for an extended period of time the HR department is almost certainly buzzing with last minute questions and tasks related to the since the severing health benefits, payroll, and the host of other odds and ends that would otherwise wait a day or two.
All things being equal, there is the potential that one of the myriad of stakeholders simply wants to toy with brinkmanship and may cave after the first weekend but don’t get your hopes up. Similarly, don’t expect the recent news about introducing Federal mediators to trigger any flood of progress; instead, it is looking more like the work stoppage will be another knock-down, drag-out affair.
Fighting Fire With Fire
Sure, fighting fire with fire is a great sound bite but in practical application you don’t fight fire with fire, you fight it with water. If you haven’t caught it already, The New York Times published an article on 7/29/2014 by Michael Cooper that takes a step back to add some perspective to the rhetoric and recounts how difficult it was for the Met’s ticket sales to bounce back from their last work stoppage in 1980. When taking into consideration the Met’s current earned income shortfalls, a work stoppage without at least some effort to play and talk carries greater potential to exacerbate what the Met has defined as a crucial problem.
Cooper’s article also includes a gentle reminder about the human side to this ugliness by way of pointing out the individuals amid trying moments in life such as expecting mothers and those who are sick, injured, or otherwise engaged in some sort of necessary and ongoing treatment.
Dissolving health benefits for those individuals, again without even an attempt to play and talk, risks inflicting real mental, physical, and financial damage on individuals who likely have no substantial influence over the course of the bargaining for no other reason than maximizing leverage.
In the end, there are no winners if it means someone else has to lose but by this time tomorrow, it’s quite likely that’s precisely where the Met’s stakeholders will find themselves.