NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) — Musicians of the New York City Opera are staging a protest just as the company announces its new season.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Upper East Side

The union members say they’re being offered a contract that would gut the chorus and orchestra, strip them of health and other benefits and turn them into freelancers. And they say they’re not even guaranteed a minimum number of work weeks.

Cash-strapped City Opera officials announced the new program Monday at the Guggenheim Museum — a season of only three or four operas at venues around the city. The company said last month that it was leaving its Lincoln Center home.

City Opera Spokeswoman Maggie McKeon says the company is simply executing a strategic new model to reverse a decade of deficits.

The protest is outside the Guggenheim.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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