The Playgoer: From Lockout to Strike?

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

From Lockout to Strike?

The story only gets more complicated...

Broadway seems safe for the weekend. And probably for the next week. But now October 21 is the date to watch, according to Crain's:

This afternoon [Friday, October 12], James Claffey Jr., president of Local One, announced he would assemble the union's Broadway workers Sunday, Oct. 21 to vote on a strike authorization if the producers impose a new contract. Today's announcement started the required ten-day process necessary to authorize a strike.
So the producers may succeed in changing the nomenclature by declaring a new contract by fiat. Which in the words of Crain's Miriam Kreinin Souccar, would leave "the stagehands to blame for all the sad tweens who wouldn't get to see Wicked or Legally Blond."

Which is also probably why the producers haven't locked them out just yet. Even though their official statement is:
“When you have big hit shows making $500,000 a week profit, you don’t want to close anything,” says one theater executive.
On the other hand, they could also just be buying time:
Though the producers could impose a contract as early as Monday, some say they are talking about waiting until next month, after all the sets for the new shows are safely loaded into theaters. October is the busiest “load in” month for the fall season—with more than 10 new shows being set up.

“Waiting till shows are loaded in is a good strategy,” says Norman Samnick, an attorney with Bryan Cave, who has negotiated against the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees in the past. “If the shows are loaded in, they could even operate without stagehands.”(That is of course, if the actors and musicians crossed picket lines.)
Is that true? Big Broadway musicals could perform without stagehands? Or are they assuming scabs?

Word, so far, seems to be that actors and musicians are in solidarity. So far.

PS. Campbell Robertson also has more in Saturday's NYT.


Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Looks like shows are safe for this week, but Sunday appears to be D-Day, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

No way they could operate without scabs. Clay Aiken could move all the props he wants but he ain't running a digital sound board or manning a lighting console.
It'll be pretty brutal for scabs if it came to that.
And IATSE has on a number of occasions not honored strikes from the smaller unions and even Equity. I think Equity is likely to honor IATSEs strike even if privately its just on a safety level.