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."
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.