NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Opera said Wednesday that it will lock out union workers if a contract deal is not reached.

Management at the opera sent a letter to union members, saying if there is no deal when the current contract expires on July 31, they should plan for a work stoppage the following day, CBS 2 reported.

Met general manager Peter Gelb told the union members – which includes orchestral and chorus performers and stagehands – that he “sincerely hope(s) to avoid such an unfortunate event,” according to a New York Times report.

The Met said it must cut costs. The union said poor management is the reason the opera is losing money.

The Met as of Wednesday was in rehearsals for the new season that begins Sept. 22, with a production of Mozart’s “Nozze di Figaro.”

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 newspaper reported.

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

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