Union Protests Concert

The Def Leppard / Bryan Adams co-headlining tour gathered some extra headlines when a labor controversy emerged over its San Jose, Calif., stop.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 134 protested the June 3rd concert because Chicago-based promoter Jam Productions hired non-union workers.

The city-owned Municipal Stadium has no contractual or legal obligation to hire union workers, but IATSE representatives said its failure to do so was unfair to workers and local promoters who hire union labor at the HP Pavilion and Shoreline Amphitheatre, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“You can’t have people come into town and take out all this money and not benefit the community,” IATSE business manager Don Ricker told the paper.

Around 40 protestors held up signs and distributed flyers outside the stadium the day of the show, the paper said.

Jam Productions CEO Jerry Mickelson said the union proposed “outrageous” wages and attempted to bully his company into accepting its terms.

“That’s how they started negotiations – threatening and strong-arming,” Mickelson told Pollstar. “That’s no way to welcome me to your community and expect me to want to sit down and be your buddy.

“We’re not against unions; we use unions every day of the week in most of our shows,” Mickelson continued. “It just depends on each venue in each jurisdiction. … The fact is, it was a non-union building and there are other competing venues in the area that don’t have union (labor). It’s about the ability to compete and compete fairly.”

Mickelson said the rates the union demanded were “higher than most major cities.”

“The labor was twice as high as what it should have been in most normal situations,” he said. “And when you take into account that the union benefits added up to 35 percent on top of the hourly wages and then to do the payroll from the payroll company was another 25 percent, you’re talking about 60 percent more per hour that was added on top of the hourly wage. And the hourly wage was already too high. …

“We offered them work and they turned us down.”

According to the Mercury News, the union asked for $23.50 per hour plus workers’ compensation and benefits that added an additional $6.50 per hour.

Ricker told the paper he tried for two months to negotiate with Jam Productions but didn’t receive a response until days before the show. He said the company offered to pay the hourly wages in cash but not use a payroll company or provide insurance and benefits.

— Niilo Smeds