According to a report on 2 August 2014 on the website of the New York Times the Metropolitan Opera extended its current contracts with its workers, in terms of a collective bargaining agreement, for about a week to allow an independent analyst to examine its finances after the Met had threatened to lock out its workers if it did not reach new deals with its labor unions by last Sunday night.   It appears that the Met wants to reduce the pay and benefits of its workers because its expenses have increased in recent years and the Met’s future is at risk.   According to the report the ‘unions have resisted the cuts and have questioned whether the company’s finances were in dire shape’.

View Lockout Is Delayed While an Independent Analyst Examines the Met’s Finances to read the report.   So despite a duty to bargain in good faith in the United States of America companies also have to resort to locking out workers to resolve collective bargaining disputes to ensure the survival of the enterprises.

What is particularly interesting from a South African perspective is the use of an independent analyst to conduct a confidential, nonbinding study of the Met’s finances.   It appears from the report that the Met reached agreements with three of its smaller unions but still needs to conclude agreements with 12 others.

It is understood that the practice in the USA is to conclude three-year collective bargaining agreements, but when they expire there is effectively no agreement.   That is why the parties are obliged by law to inform the Federal Mediation Service 90 days in advance of the expiry date to enable a mediator to start the process of facilitation between the parties.   In this instance the mediator’s suggestion of engaging the services of an independent analyst were accepted and it will be interesting to see the outcome, which should be known tomorrow 11 August 2014.