Broadway stike??: Union votes to strike, but for now Broadway goes on as normal

In an ongoing, and increasingly bitter, dispute between the 'League of American Theatres and Producers' and Broadway's unionised stage hands, (members of Local one - part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), strike action seems increasingly likely. At a meeting on Sunday 21 Oct 2007, the union members voted to authorise strike action.

The two sides are in dispute about stage hands working practices, that the League claims are "archaic" and "jeopardize the industry�s health." Union members have been working without contracts since July, not being willing to accept the new terms that the League seeks to impose. The League, which broke off negotiations with the union on Friday 19 Oct 07, has said it will start to enforce some of the new rules from Monday 22 Oct 2007. This move as apparently forced the union to seek strike action, which the union members have now voted for.

Both sides seem intransigent, with the League forcing an apparent head on collision with the union by unilaterally trying to impose new working practices, while the union representatives declined Mayor Michael Bloomberg's offer to mediate in the dispute.

The vote to authorise strike action means that Broadway may go dark within days, though for now negotiations between the League and the union have resumed, with the union stating that in the mean time union members will show up for work on Monday - despite the League seeking to impose new working practices. However, the union has also warned, that as the days go on, if the union and the League cannot reach an agreement, then strike seems inevitable, especially as Thanksgiving week approaches.

The League in a statement says "As it has done twice during the two most recent negotiations, Local One has, once again, threatened to strike during the busy holiday season when the harm would be most severe." The union's response to this is to blame the League, pointing out that it is the League that forced the issue in July, when the Union began work without contracts, and again this week, when the League unilaterally decided to enforce new working conditions, just weeks before Thanksgiving.

The League is not in a reconciliatory mood, in a press statement released after the vote to authorise strike action the League said "The League remains committed to our final contract offer." If this remains the case then much of Broadway may be dark within weeks, if not days." The apparent fighting talk from the League, and the now realistic threat of immanent strike action by the union, may all be parts of the closing stages of negotiating a final deal. For now, Broadway shows will go on as normal - but for how long?

If strike action takes place, not all Broadway Theatre's will go dark. The Nederlander Organization, which negotiates directly with the union, separate from the League, has distanced itself from the League's insistence on forcing new working practices on union members from Mon 22 Oct 2007, as a result its theatres will not be effected by any strike action, - Brooks Atkinson - Gershwin - Lunt-Fontanne - Marquis - Minskoff - Nederlander -Neil Simon - Palace - Richard Rodgers. Also, The Roundabout (American Airlines, Studio 54), Manhattan Theatre Club (Biltmore) and the Lincoln Center (Vivian Beaumont) Theatres would remain open.

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