BROADWAY STRIKE IS OVER: Leage and the union reach agreement. Shows to resume Thursday evening (29 nov)
Broadway is celebrating the news that the strike by Local One, Broadway's unionised stage hands, ended late this evening. The news was announced to the press just before 11pm.
Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the League, told the waiting press,
"We are pleased to announce that we have a tentative agreement with Local One of IATSE ending the Broadway strike, and we're happy about that. Performances for all shows will begin tomorrow night ï¿½ once again, that's Thursday, Nov. 29." and went on to say "The agreement is a good compromise that serves our industry. What is most important is that Broadway's lights will once again be shining brightly with a diversity of productions that will delight all theatregoers during this holiday time. We look forward to celebrating the season and welcoming our talented stagehands and the theatregoing public back to Broadway."James J. Claffey, the president of Local One, addressed his union members, "Brothers and sisters of Local One, you've respresented yourselves and your families and your union proud. That's enough said right there."
And with that the 19 day strike, which cost the city of New York $2 million a day and caused misery to tens of thousands of theatre goers, came to an end.
The news that shows will open on the evening of Thursday 29 Nov does not mean every show closed by the industrial action will be open that evening. There is a lot of preparation involved in re-opening a large Broadway show that has been closed for almost three weeks. If you have tickets for shows (Especially the big musicals) tomorrow evening, then you should confirm with the theatre that the show will play. One thing is for sure, even if some of the larger shows are not able to be ready in time to open on 29 Nov 27, all shows will definitely be playing their normal schedule from 30 Nov 2007.
The end of the strike came after three marathon sessions of negotiations, which began on Sunday 25 Nov. The first session lasted for 20 hours, before announcing that both sides would take a twelve hour break before resuming at 7pm on Monday 26 Nov 2007. The second marathon session lasted for 13 hours, and still there was no agreement.
The second session ended with the League announcing that no agreement had been reached, and no further talks had been scheduled, which too many sounded as if we were back to square one. However, this announcement was updated within an hour to say a further round of talks would take place on Wed 28 Nov starting at 10am. Those talks ended at 11pm on 28 Nov with the news that a settlement had been reached, and that the strike was now over.
The League and the Union have provided no details about the settlement, though some news has leaked through to the press.
During the first two sessions of the negotiations, the two sides settled the contentious issue of how many stagehands are needed to load in a new show. (ie set up the scenery etc,). The two sides have agreed that a minimum of 17 stagehands is needed at all times during a loading.
Other issues discussed included the minimum length of time a stagehand should be paid during a work call. Under the old rule, if a stagehand worked for more than one hour, they were paid for a minimum of four; this has now been changed to a minimum of two hours.
The final round of negotiations related to the pay raise the League would offer in exchange for the new rules. That figure is not known, but it is known that the League will grant yearly pay raises well above the 3.5% originally on offer.
The League had wanted to do away with what it called 'featherbedding,' referring to stagehands being paid for work they do not do. For example, 35 stagehands may be needed on the first day of loading a new show, but only 12 for each subsequent day. The old rules meant that the same number of stagehands needed on the first day, had to be employed for each subsequent day. This rule has applied for a long time, so far back in fact that even the League says it cannot remember when, or how, such a rule came into place.
From the union's point of view, they appreciated this fact, but regardless of how these rules came about, they constituted a substantial amount of a stagehands annual income, and to just remove them would mean a substantial pay decrease for the stagehands. The union believed that for the new changes, the League would need to increase stagehands' salary in other ways, to avoid the stagehands from losing out.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, it seems both sides have now reached an agreement that they can be happy with.
Originally published on