Friday, May 25, 2012

IATSE Job Action at Empire New York Continues

TPU Local One IATSE Recording-Corresponding Secretary, Robert C. Score reported: "The rainy weather did not deter the spirit of Local One members turning out in full force on 45th Street to peacefully demonstrate at the Empire New York tent show on Thursday evening. The support from the neighborhood continues to escalate with a cascade of honking horns from the passing trucks, taxis and cars filling the night air with the music of solidarity", Brother Score wrote.

Broadcast Union News photo by Bob Daraio
He continued; "The passing of a FDNY truck with lights swirling brought cheers and fists in the air! The relationship with the NYPD assigned to the site remains cordial and cooperative."

Recording-Corresponding Secretary, Robert C. Score,  thanked members for participating and "once again demonstrating the strength and resolve of the greatest Local in the land!"  He further reminded everyone that "the battle is not over. The Call of Your Union is now Friday, May 25th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., 45th Street and 8th Ave." Brother Score sent, "A big shout out to the Theatrical Teamsters for their tremendous showing and support!"

The Local One stagehands were joined on the picket line outside the Empire New York tent by representatives of AGVA, UFM Local 802, IBT Local 817, and TNG-CWA Local 31003.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters
In an interview with Bloomberg's Philip BoroffFrank Connolly Jr., secretary treasurer of Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, whose members load and unload sets and equipment in and out of theaters, noted that his union dates back to 1926 and the stagehands’ union was organized in 1886. He said “Spiegelworld” producers declined to negotiate. 

“I don’t think it would add very much to their costs,” he said of hiring Teamsters, who also picketed. “They can’t just walk into ground zero of the theater district to operate without talking to anybody.”

Theater goers deciding to cross the picket line to attend David J. Foster and Ross Mollison's non-union Spiegelworld production were greeted by the giant rat and angry stagehands who politely suggested they might enjoy one of the many fine Broadway Shows, staffed by union crews, conveniently located nearby, instead.  

A number of patrons tried to have their ticket price refunded at the box office, but were refused. Many chose to forgo supporting union busting anyway and went elsewhere for their evening's entertainment.

Local One President James C. Claffey

 Bloomberg photo by Philip Borof
"Local One IATSE can't stand by while a non-union entertainment operation pitches its tent, even temporarily, in the heart of the Broadway theater district, the working home of thousands of entertainment professionals," said James J. Claffey, president of the 3000-member, 126-year-old stage local. "Though the number of Local One IATSE jobs we're taking about are no more than a handful of jobs, we will exercise all our legal rights to ensure these employees have union rights and protections."

NY Daily News photo by Bryan Smith
The New York Daily News wrote:  "Demonstrators have been stationed outside the show since last Friday. The protest Tuesday was described by the group as "a big push" and the largest demonstration by Local One since November 2007, when it went on strike to protest a cut in jobs and wages. Asked why Local One did not protest the show when it ran downtown, a spokesman said: "This is in our face."  As the demonstration went on, nonunion workers struggled to move equipment into the venue. Local One official Mickey Fox hollered: "Need help with that? Join the union."

Paul Dean, Don McKennan, and Bob Daraio on the picket line

Actors' Equity Association has offered its support of the protest in a prepared statement: "Actors' Equity Association urges Foster Mollison Entertainment to bargain in good faith with our sister unions, including AGVA and Local One IATSE, to achieve a fair and equitable contract for Spiegelworld 'Empire New York' as it begins its run in the heart of the Broadway theater district. Actors’ Equity firmly believes that our sister unions should be represented at this production." 

"AGVA is the American Guild of Variety Artists, a union that represents theme park performers, circus artists, revue singers and dancers, comedians, skaters and others. AEA is one of "more than a dozen unions whose highly skilled, creative and talented memberships work tirelessly to entertainment audiences on Broadway." Actors' Equity "firmly believes that our sister unions should be represented at this production."

AGVA Representatives joined the picket
According to Variety: "both Local One, the legit theater stagehands union, and AGVA, the union that also negotiates contracts for New York's Cirque du Soleil and Rockettes productions, said in interviews that producers of "Empire" had abruptly stopped communicating with the unions following a round of initial inquiries and discussions." 

The unions plan to continue picketing until producers respond and negotiate in good faith until a fail agreement is reached. 

Local One IATSE (, James J. Claffey, Jr., President, is the premiere stagecraft union in the world, representing 3,100 stage and studio electricians, set carpenters, sound designers, audio technicians, moving-light operators, riggers and special effects people in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester and Rockland. 

Local One members construct, install, maintain, and operate the lighting and sound equipment, the scenery and special effects which thrill and delight audiences attending Broadway shows; concerts at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall; the magnificent, spectacular productions at The Metropolitan Opera and throughout Lincoln Center; and the many entertainment and news broadcasts from CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and PBS. Local One technicians work behind the scenes at numerous cable TV studios, major corporate industrials and special events.


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