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The Great White Way may be headed into the darkness due to the failure of the League of American Theatres and Producers to continue bargaining with Local One of the IATSE.  The League plans to implement"some parts" of its last and final offer on Monday.

Local One president James J. Claffey Jr. previously stated why the union rejected the League's final offer: "The union addressed nearly every item on the producers' list and offered imaginative solutions that met the producers' requests... What the producers failed to do was recognize our suggestions with exchanges of its own. What they failed to understand is what I said publicly and privately in the last year: Local One is open to exchanges on work rules and other areas, but would not make a concessionary agreement of any kind. Local One will not accept cuts."  

more.....

This is a labor dispute typical of today's America.  Take a group making more money than ever, a union that has NEVER struck Broadway in its 121 year history (organized in 1886), and today's labor laws which greatly favor employers, and you have a bad situation about to occur.  If you read the statements put out by the League you might think that the stagehands where holding the theater owners up at gunpoint.  Of course that is not the case, the owners want to take back working conditions negotiated over many years, and give nothing in return.  Typical.  This in an industry which had another record breaking year last year.

Local One represents the 350-500 stagehands who work each week on Broadway.  It also represents about 2500 more stagehands around NYC and surrounding areas working in places like the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, four television networks, Madison Square Garden and other venues.

A strike authorization vote is to be taken on Sunday, Oct 21, 2007.  After that the union will take whatever action it thinks will be most effective to bring the League back to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract.

For the record, I am a stagehand, and I speak only for myself.  

Originally posted to Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    I may need it if I'm out of work.

    "Even if [BUSH] weren't a complete idiot, which he is, he'd still be an asshole." Digby

    by Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:31:36 AM PDT

  •  Our own Eddie C has been talking about this.... (8+ / 0-)

    it's what he does.  

    We have to stick together.  Our laws so favor the corporations that it shameful.  

  •  Why not. (0+ / 0-)

    The New York Post reported Oct. 17 that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has offered to mediate a discussion between the League and the Union. His offer, however, was turned down by the union. Union president Claffey told the Post, "I appreciated his offer, but I respectfully declined. The mayor understands and respects our organization's right to bargain." Bloomberg, it should be noted, was instrumental in helping to end the Broadway musicians strike in 2003.

    Allow Bloomberg to help negotiate, it would to be a better option then either side engaging in a practice that would harm them both financially.

    Are good deeds done by evil methods still not good deeds? -Anonymous

    by Advocatus diaboli on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:34:17 AM PDT

    •  perhaps... (0+ / 0-)

      Just who do you think Mayor Bloomberg will favor in such a negotiation?  Just asking.

      "Even if [BUSH] weren't a complete idiot, which he is, he'd still be an asshole." Digby

      by Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:36:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think. (0+ / 0-)

        He will want to score political points with the working man to offset his billionaire image, if he has any future presidential aspirations that is.

        If the union were to promise some favorable public relations, he might be inclined to come down on their side.

        Are good deeds done by evil methods still not good deeds? -Anonymous

        by Advocatus diaboli on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:41:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hope you're right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          susie dow

          but I doubt it.  The League represents big money interests in New York, and I suspect that the Mayor would pressure the union to accept a "reasonable" compromise (read: give in).  That's usually what happens when a small union is pitted against big money and power.  

          Without a union, there would be no chance at all.  Here we have a unique situation, a small union that can shut down a billion dollar industry.  The powers that be hate that.  

          Let's see what happens.

          "Even if [BUSH] weren't a complete idiot, which he is, he'd still be an asshole." Digby

          by Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:47:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Indeed. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bob Friend

            How large is this unions strike fund anyway? I'm also not up to date on New York labor law, can't the business simply hire more workers?

            Are good deeds done by evil methods still not good deeds? -Anonymous

            by Advocatus diaboli on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:49:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  According to Playbill (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              grannyhelen

              the strike fund is $4 million dollars.

              Both the League and Local One claim substantial reserves ($20 million from the League and $4 million from Local One), which they hope will ease some of the financial losses, were a lockout or strike to occur. In addition, Local One could relocate some of its members to other venues in television and various venues throughout the metropolitan area, citing "Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, City Center, hotels trade shows, and all of Lincoln Center (there are as many Local One jobs at Lincoln Center alone as there are on Broadway.)"

              (Link in diary)

              "Even if [BUSH] weren't a complete idiot, which he is, he'd still be an asshole." Digby

              by Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 11:53:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  i think bloomberg will favor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Friend

        a compromise...  and if the LATP balks he will strong on them into a settlement with Claffey.  Bloomberg realizes that Broadway is a BIG tourist draw, and a dark white way means less tourist monies in NYC's coffers.

        it benefits no one for a prolonged local one strike...least of all the city of NY.

        IMPEACH THE CHEERLEADER... SAVE THE WORLD! © ®

        by KnotIookin on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:13:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  our house stops at IASTE picket-lines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Friend, grannyhelen

    won't cross em...  nope.

    I am keeping my fingers crossed though that this is settled without having to walk out of work...

    IMPEACH THE CHEERLEADER... SAVE THE WORLD! © ®

    by KnotIookin on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:08:15 PM PDT

  •  No fear... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that I'd ever cross a IATSE picket line, having worked as a stagehand in New York I'm not the type that's going to shell out big bucks I don't have to see The Kinky Lion or some such crap.

    As to IATSE being some poor little innocent vulnerable union - HA! It's more like an exclusive club. As one working guy to another I wish you guys luck, but it would be nice if IATSE had ever shown similar sympathies for all the other working stiffs in the theatre.

    Forthcoming from the Orange Press: "Planet Marx."

    by Trotsky the Horse on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:15:46 PM PDT

    •  Oh, Boy, Am I With You! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ThaliaR

      See my comment below if you'd like.

      No ego, I was one of the best. But frozen membership and some very underhanded dealing drove me away.

      It actually causes me chest pains to bash a union, but in this case, it has to be said.

      I MORE than welcome any substantive response. As I said below, I'd LOVE to be wrong.

      I weigh 666 pounds in zero gravity; COME AND GET ME!

      by thirdnostril on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:25:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Innocent? No. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boadicea

      Vunerable? Maybe, we are up against powerful, rich producers.

      Small. YES.  3000 members is a small union.  We are members of the IATSE (International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees), but Local One itself is not large.

      This is a big fight.  The union movement is alive and kicking.  If middle class Americans want to stay middle class they should become more familiar with unions again.

      "Even if [BUSH] weren't a complete idiot, which he is, he'd still be an asshole." Digby

      by Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:29:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hate to Hit You With This... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ThaliaR

    ...but I have to know. Years ago, I was a stagehand. I was a lightboard op, I worked the rail, I did sound, spent many evenings as a deck ape, I did it all. Everyone I worked with counted me among their best technicians. I was punctual, knowledgeable, and unlike many of the people around me at the time, completely sober. I couldn't get in the union for the life of me. They were always in a condition of being full up. I tried for years before giving up.

    I was told at the time that IATSE members are permitted to pass their union cards on to their children, so even when a member dies, there's often no new opening.

    Is this true?

    Also, when we tried to form a new Bronx local of IATSE, Tony Tersi basically sat down with our management and agreed not to support us, in exchange for more work for his crew, who were already making union wages. What could you tell me that would change my opinion of IATSE? Currently, I see them as an "anti-union," protecting their turf by discouraging others from joining the trade, through membership freezes and actively working against new locals. They resemble Actor's Equity in this respect.

    I would purely love to be proven wrong.

    I weigh 666 pounds in zero gravity; COME AND GET ME!

    by thirdnostril on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:23:09 PM PDT

    •  I think you have a few wrong ideas here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      boadicea, MajorFlaw

      Local One gives an open membership test to qualify for apprenticeships every few years.  Anyone can apply.  In addition there is an organizational list made up every year of people employed within the Local One jurisdiction who can apply for membership.  

      In my 35+ years as a Local One stagehand, the number of working Local One members has more than doubled.

      And no, you can't pass your IA card down to a relative.

      Come back, take the test.

      "Even if [BUSH] weren't a complete idiot, which he is, he'd still be an asshole." Digby

      by Bob Friend on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:34:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Admittedly... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Friend, boadicea

        ...this was in the late 80s and early 90s, so things can change. Also, it was just as Reagan had decimated the NEA, so there WAS a surge of non-union techs looking to go union who had been happy to freelance it before. What I experienced may have been a temporary defensive measure.

        In their defense, IATSE stagehands in general were extremely sympathetic to our non-union working conditions. The house had a deal with Local 1 that they would provide department heads for large productions, so we worked with IATSE members regularly. They would see our skill level, ask us how much we made an hour, and when we told them, they would tsk, tsk and then either buy us lunch or take over all heavy lifting.

        I accept your invitation, sir. Thanks for getting back.

        Oh...and UNION YES! Hold the line, don't give 'em an inch!

        I weigh 666 pounds in zero gravity; COME AND GET ME!

        by thirdnostril on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:55:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Good luck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Friend

    I've been a stagehand in the local theater, and I know how hard you work at what you do.  

    Best wishes.

    We have to become the leaders we seek. --boadicea
    Visit Texas Kaos. We're taking Texas back!

    by sccs on Wed Oct 17, 2007 at 12:23:44 PM PDT

  •  Good luck, Local 1! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Friend, boadicea

    As a former stage carpenter and scenic artist, I sympathize with your plight and wish you the best! I never had the opportunity to belong to our Local IATSE, but I know from experience that unionized gigs are more professional and far more pleasant to work on than non-union. Living in the south I certainly worked my fair share of both types. Hang in there!

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