Friday, November 09, 2007

STRIKE!

STRIKE!

It's official!

Broadway stagehands will strike beginning Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) will take action against The League of American Theatres and Producers after having gone without a contract since July 31. Renewed talks this week stalled yesterday after being characterized as highly contentious.

According to the Associated Press, "A person close to contract negotiations says that stagehands will go on strike tomorrow, a move expected to darken most of the plays and musicals on Broadway." Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which only opened earlier this evening, will be the first show struck given its 11 am curtain call.

Very few Broadway theatres would remain open during a lockout or a strike. They are:
The Nederlander Organization is widely expected to lockout the stagehands from its nine theatres, even though technically the strike is only being waged against the Shubert and Jujamcyn theatres.

Now that the strike is confirmed, let me offer my point of view.

I've allowed the stagehands to have pretty free reign here to talk about their beef with The League. I've also taken issue with The League for threatening a lockout and gone so far as to encourage readers to write directly to The League expressing their dismay as audience members that they might be shutout when ultimately, it's the audience who keeps Broadway in business. So no one can accuse me of being unfair to the stagehands.

But now that it's come to this, I'm frankly ticked off at some of the undue language many on the stagehands side have used to disparage those who come up with the investment dollars to put on a Broadway show. Most shows lose money. It's the rare exception that makes money. The fact that the producers are willing to take a substantial risk on a show only to be told how many people they must hire to load-in a show regardless of the actual number necessary makes it very unfair for stagehands to complain about their respective lots in life.

Here's the rub for me as an audience member. I work hard, very hard and choose to spend my free time and money taking in live theatre on Broadway and elsewhere. Even though I may not always like what I do in my professional life, the fact is it's my choice. Nobody is holding a gun to my head and saying "You must do this." The same goes for the producers and the same applies to stagehands. You've selected this career and if you don't like it or the conditions or the pay or the return on your dollar, then perhaps it's time to move on.

Now I only hope that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will see fit to keep the bright lights shining on the Great White Way. Not since 2003 has there been a strike on Broadway -- thanks to his intervention, it lasted a mere four days.

Let's hope for the sake of all the men and women, not only in the audience, but especially those innocent bystanders who work in the theatre district that this ends quickly. Otherwise, those of us in the audience will take our patronage elsewhere and may just stay there.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
A Broadway Stagehands Strike Appears Imminent (November 9, 2007)
Roll Up Your Sleeves And Get To Work! (November 7, 2007)
Now That The Union Has Spoken... (October 22, 2007)
It's Unanimous! (October 20, 2007)
D-Day Indeed (October 21, 2007)
$5 Million Per Day (October 19, 2007)
Nederlanders: On Their Own Again? (October 18, 2007)
The Broadway Theatres Not Impacted By Labor Dispute (October 17, 2007)
Bloomberg Appears Ready To Step Into Fray (October 16, 2007)
If You're Holding Tix For Broadway This Week, You're Safe (October 15, 2007)
Stagehands To Vote On Strike...October 21 (October 12, 2007)
The Shows Must Go On...At Least Over Weekend (October 12, 2007)
Still No Lockout (October 12, 2007)
No Lockout Tonight (October 11, 2007)
Lockout Likely (October 10, 2007)
Is This The One For One? (October 9, 2007)
tagehands' Union Concedes Key Point (October 5, 2007)
Stagehands Talks To Continue This Afternoon (October 5, 2007)
No Monday Lockout (September 29, 2007)
Before The Holidays Strike? (September 25, 2007)
Thanks, Mel! (July 6, 2007)

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8 Comments:

At 10 November, 2007, Anonymous OnGo said...

Hi Steve
Most Producers Dont invest there own money, They are middle men "Mangers" Who work on percentages.
If you heard the words spoken to the Stagehands across the from across the table.
You would think The Stagehands Saints.
As to that 80% failure rate
What is the sucess rate of a brand new small Business?
Yes Steve you have been Fair and Open.
Thank You

 
At 10 November, 2007, Anonymous spotone said...

This was not our choice
this was our responce.
lockout , union busting tactics
these are not NICE people we are dealing with.
The are not the old boys that used to love and work theatre
these are professional union busters we have to deal with

We too have families
The Leagues "BAD FAITH" Has caused this

 
At 10 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You've selected this career and if you don't like it or the conditions or the pay or the return on your dollar, then perhaps it's time to move on."

EXACTLY.

 
At 10 November, 2007, Blogger LizG said...

Amen, Steve. I have the utmost respect for stage techies, as I do for anyone willing to invest or manage money in this incredibly fickle industry. However, I don't think this industry has been as proactive as others in adapting to the new business reality. There's a reason ticket prices are becoming so out of reach for the average person. Whether you peg that to the greed of producers or the antiquated view of unions with respect to staff needs on a production, people need to step back and refocus. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for audiences to let their feelings shown by being no-shows when the curtain rises once more...for a short while anyways... :)

LizG
pixeltheatre.wordpress.com

 
At 10 November, 2007, Anonymous IATSEGO said...

I would like to thank the Theatre going public.
For their Outcry and Support that they gave the stage hands,
Many many people let us know they were disappointed, but that they understood
ThankYou

 
At 11 November, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actor Patrick Page, star of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, said he supported the strike but hoped for an early settlement:

"These guys on strike over here are the backbone of Broadway. They are the guys who keep me safe, when I get hoisted up in the air in the show, they are the guys who put light on me, who make sure everything happens."

 
At 12 November, 2007, Anonymous Jenny said...

Hi. I'm from San Antonio, My dad works for I.A.T.S.E. Local 76. What upsets me about the whole situation is people are trying to make it seem like stagehands are making a whole lot of money doing easy work. When, in fact, the work is hard, and the money would not be that great unless they were unionized.

 
At 12 November, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Jenny, Thanks for your comments.

Personally, I would not want to do the work that a stagehand does and my hat is off to them for what they do and their commitment to it. They help make the theatre experience complete, even though we never see them.

 

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