Responses by Sam Wheeler 1) Please clarify: do the proposed rate reductions apply to all per performance soloist rehearsal fees? In my contracts, rehearsal compensation is described as, “Singer shall receive therefore the applicable amount as stipulated in Article FIFTH, A. of SECTION TWO of the collective bargaining agreement between AGMA and The Met towards rehearsal expenses.” Are these "applicable amounts" being amended for the tentative agreement? he total contract value, including rehearsal pay, will be reduced by the percentages set T forth in the MOA. FYI, the rehearsal rates are now posted to the Referendum Resource page for quick reference. 2) For contracts that are executed during the proposed agreement for seasons past 2024 (September 2024 and beyond), will these deductions apply? For example, if in October of 2023 the Met offers me a contract for the 28/29 season, do the deductions apply? he reductions apply to outstanding contracts and contracts executed until 2024. So T any contracts you sign before July 31, 2024 will have the deductions, any contracts you sign on or after August 1, 2024, will not. 3) Is the media agreement and revenue sharing that is calculated from Live in HD performances affected by these proposed rate reductions? o, there were no reductions in media or revenue sharing--that will be calculated as it N has been in the past. 4) In a few of your update emails during the bargaining process, you mentioned updating the media agreement to reflect current practice, especially in regard to online streaming. Was there any ratification to the media agreement? Was there any discussion to compensate artists for their work in the continued free streaming of past HD performances? e pushed hard for changes to the media agreement to deal specifically with online W streaming, specifically seeking revenue sharing for soloists, but we were unable to reach an agreement on that subject. We've told the Met that if the upcoming season is delayed, one of the issues we will want to discuss is to make sure our members, specifically soloists, are able to share in any funds raised from the free streaming. I expect that Met would push back on this, but it remains a top priority on our list of things to fight for. 5) The following statement needs more clarification: “Per performance soloists working for the Met for at least four weeks will be entitled to divert a portion of their compensation to cover the cost of AGMA Plan A for an individual for one year.” Is the 4 weeks of engagement calculated within a season (Sept.-June) or the calendar year? Do those weeks have to be consecutive? Does the enrollment in AGMA Plan A begin following the 4 weeks of engagement and continue for one calendar year past enrollment? Can a spouse or family members join the plan once the individual is enrolled? Is the coverage available nationwide? Am I eligible for this plan if I'm not a NY resident? he four weeks are calculated within a season, not a calendar year. The weeks do not T have to be consecutive--to see if you qualify, the easiest way is just to see if your contract encompasses a total of four weeks over the course of the calendar season (rehearsal and performance weeks). With regards to timing of benefits, we are still working out the precise details with the Met, as it's part of the overall transfer over to Plan A that the other groups are doing. It's possible that the benefits will run during the Met's fiscal year--you'd make your decision in advance of the season and have benefits August 1-July 31; or that the Met would make the contribution once you arrive and, likely after a few weeks of lag time, the benefits would kick in then. In either instance, they would run for one calendar year. At the moment, the option is only for individual coverage, not family coverage. Coverage is available nationwide--we have members in Plan A across the country--so living outside NY is not an issue. 6) What happens if this agreement receives a “NO” vote? Do we strike or does AGMA go back to the bargaining table? he AGMA Board of Governors makes the final decision on ratification. The Board T rarely approves agreements a shop votes down. If the Board does not ratify the agreement, we'd try to go back to the table. Our current contract runs until August 1, so we have a little time. That said, to be candid, we were pretty close to not reaching an agreement in early May, so I have significant doubts that we would be able to secure a better agreement or to avoid the Met walking away from the table and opting for a work stoppage. The other issue to consider is that if we have to go back to the table, it could impact the ability of the other unions to reach a deal with the Met. So, while we would likely go back to the table if this tentative agreement is not ratified by the Board, I think that would mean that the Met would almost certainly not open on time. I obviously can't say for certain what will happen, but that's my professional opinion. 7) In the meeting, it was mentioned that these other groups would be facing an extra $10-$15,000 per year for healthcare through AGMA Plan A, a cost that they did not formerly have to pay. Is this an accurate out-of-pocket expense for all of these groups? Is this because they now have to pay for their own premiums? Is this a permanent cost for them? Is it correct to say the Met will no longer pay for AGMA member’s healthcare? Does AGMA share any of this cost of healthcare? As part of the overall agreement, the full-time Met Artists (choristers, stage managers, staff performers, and Plan Artist solo singers) will be moving over to AGMA Plan A from the Met's health plan. The Met will still be paying premiums for these individuals, but the premiums are dramatically less than what the Met is currently paying in premiums for its own health plan. The savings in moving to AGMA Plan A is one of the most significant concessions and cost savings for the Met in the entire agreement. Unlike the soloist reductions, these will be permanent. The reason that moving to Plan A is such a significant cost savings for the Met is, frankly, that Plan A is a less generous healthcare plan than the Met's health care in a number of ways. The number I gave on Wednesday was a rough estimate, because health care costs are variable from person to person--some people tend to use health care much less frequently than others who might need to use it more, who have underlying health conditions, or who have families. But while the precise amount of increased out of pocket health care costs might vary from person to person, I think that number is pretty fair for the following reasons. ● The out-of-network deductibles (the amount one has to pay before insurance kicks in) are $2,200 a year more under AGMA Plan A than they are under the Met Agreement for an individual and $2,300 more for family coverage. ● The out-of-pocket maximums (the amount that you can spend every year out of pocket) are double under AGMA Plan A what they are under the Met Agreement. For instance, the out-of-pocket maximum for a family plan under the Met health care plan is $4,800; under AGMA Plan A it is $12,000 a year. ● AGMA Plan A requires increased costs at almost every step of the healthcare system. Copays are generally double across the board, and while those are relatively modest ($50 for an in-network specialist, for instance), but they add up on the time. ● Prescription drug coverage is much less generous under AGMA Plan A. There are a lot of drugs, that many folks are on, that aren't covered and that will now have to be paid out of pocket. ● Dental and vision coverage are less robust--one chorister in a meeting last night estimated that they would be paying an additional $3,000 annually, just for dental coverage. ● There are also health services that aren't covered under AGMA Plan A that are under the Met agreement--things like therapy and acupuncture--that folks will now need to pay out of pocket. Similarly, physical therapy coverage is limited under AGMA Plan A. I've been meeting with full-time groups over the last few days and almost everyone I've spoken to has estimated that they will be paying thousands in additional out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. While the exact amount in extra out-of-pocket healthcare costs for each member moving forward is obviously an estimate and variable from member-to-member and family-to-family, most estimate increased out-of-pocket costs in the low five figures every year moving forward. 8) Will the rehearsal fees be outlined at any point, how they're calculated, in a clear and concise way so that we can have a bit of a better big picture outlook? The soloist rehearsal rates are now on the Referendum Reference page. Thanks for the suggestion! As of 2021, the rates for per performance soloists (pre any deduction) were $2,042.87 for soloists in their first year working at the Met; $2,188.79 for soloists in their second year; $2,334.72 for soloists in their third year; $2,480.57 for soloists in their fourth year; $2,626.54 for soloists in their fifth year. 9) Could you give an idea of what kinds of premiums an artist might be looking at for Plan A, and how those "4 weeks of work at the Met" are calculated...? Is that 4 weeks in a calendar year, 4 weeks in a season, etc? Full AGMA Plan A costs $12,732. The four-week window is a Fund requirement, and all that it requires is that the contract or contracts span at least four weeks. So if you had a contract that had performances and/or rehearsals spread over a four week period, you would qualify. The time periods are for a season, not a calendar year. 10) Could you clarify whether or not the Met's proposal to stop contracting singers who use Service Corporations thing went through, and what that's all about? Many of our members have personal service corporations (PSC), and use those PSCs to contract with the Met, usually for financial or tax reasons. The Met wanted to prohibit that practice. We were able to reject that proposal, understanding that this is an important issue for many of our members. AGMA members will still be able to use PSCs moving forward. 11) How many members of AGMA need to vote NO for this agreement to not go through? Are the votes counted by AGMA as a whole, or by constituency? i.e. If all the soloists say no, does it make any difference, or does the deal collapse then? The AGMA Board of Governors makes the final decision on ratification agreements, so there isn't a particular threshold. From what I understand, the Board rarely - if ever - approves agreements that the shop votes down, but I'm afraid there isn't a particular number.