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Metropolitan Opera Wants Federal Mediator To Settle Contract Dispute

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Metropolitan Opera wants to bring in a federal mediator to settle a contract dispute that's threatening to lockout workers.

Opera and union officials say management proposed a mediator during negotiating sessions Wednesday.

The opera says it rejected one union's proposal for interest-based bargaining, saying it would be ineffective and time consuming.

The musicians union says it's considering mediation but says the opera should extend the current contract and back off its lockout threat.

As CBS 2 reported last week, management at the opera sent a letter to union members, saying musicians and other unionized workers would be locked out beginning Friday if no deal is reached.

Contracts with the unions are set to expire on Thursday.

The Met ran a $2.8 million deficit last season on a budget of $327 million. It has reported a drop in box-office revenue and increasing costs. The Met said it must cut costs while the union said poor management is the reason the opera is losing money.

If a work stoppage goes ahead, it would be the first since 1980, when a labor dispute involving the orchestra sparked an 11-week lockout and delayed the season opening until December, The New York Times reported.

There was also a strike in 1969, the newspaper reported.

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