Broadway Strike - Day Ten: Talks between League and the Union Break down, League cancels shows through to 25 Nov

Local One Pickets

Talks 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) broke off last night with no settlement in view.

A statement issued by the League "We are profoundly disappointed to have to tell you that talks broke off with Local One, IATSE tonight, and that no further negotiations are scheduled." The news comes as no surprise to many in the industry.

There was optimism last week that the negotiations held over the weekend would lead to a settlement. The optimism was particularly buoyant with news of the intervention of Disney Theatrical Group (not a member of the League), and by the fact that Robert W. Johnson, a top labour relations executive from Disney would participate in the talks. Disney is trusted by both parties, and Robert W. Johnson is particularly respected by Thomas C. Short, the main union representative at the negotiation table.

However, when no settlement had been announced by Sunday afternoon, hope was rapidly disappearing, and many were coming to terms with the thought that this strike may possibly go on for at least another week - if not longer. The immediate effect of the break down was news that the League had cancelled all shows at the darkened theatres through to 25 Nov 2007.

This will make unhappy reading for the producers of 'Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas,' who many believe will post a closing notice this week. It is also being rumoured that 'Curtains', 'Cyrano de Bergerac' and 'The Drowsy Chaperone' are considering closing notices. Of these three, it seems The Drowsy Chaperone is most likely to fall victim to the strike, - though a production spokes person denied to us last week that the producers have already decided on a closing date.

The end of negotiations will most probably mean another bitter round of public re-criminations from both sides. The League of American Theatres and Producers were the first to fire the opening exchange, the statement they issued last night said "We presented a comprehensive proposal that responded to the union�s concerns about loss of jobs and earnings and attempted to address our need for some flexibilities in running our business. The union rejected our effort to compromise and continues to require us to hire more people than we need."

Bruce Cohen, spokesperson for the union, made the following statement at 11pm last night: "Just before the talks broke off; the producers informed Local One that what Local One had offered was simply not enough. The producers then walked out. Local One will have no further comment."

It would seem that the League is in a bellicose mood. The announcement that all shows have been cancelled through to 25 Nov looks as if it is planned to put pressure on Local One. May be the League hopes that this announcement will shake up actors and musicians union, who will no doubt be putting pressure on Local one to end the strike now that there members will only be receiving strike pay throughout Thanksgiving week.

Michael Riedel wrote, in his article for The New York Post last week, that the Producers appear to be working on the assumption that "When the actors and musicians start feeling the pinch, their union leaders will put intense pressure on the stagehands to make a deal."

In the meanwhile, Local One believes that this is a fight for their survival, and that the Producers are determined to break the union's back. In order to prevent this, they are prepared to hold out - if necessary, in the belief that once shows begin to fall, the producers will be less belligerent.

Local One is still stinging from the threat made by the Producers in Sept/Oct to lock-out union members from Broadway theatres. A lockout would have seen the producers closing their own shows, and would close Broadway in the same way as the strike has. Local One members have been working without a contract since 31 Jul 2007.

Broadway Strike! - Day one
Broadway Strike! - Day two
Broadway Strike! - Day three
Broadway Strike! - Day four
Broadway Strike! - Day five
Broadway Strike! - Day six
Broadway Strike! - Day seven
Broadway Strike! - Day eight
Broadway Strike! - Day nine

Click here to find out which Broadway shows are playing, and which ones are not.

Originally published on

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