Striking In Seattle?

The owners of Seattle’s Qwest Field are hearing labor unions grumble for allowing the use of non-union stagehands at the stadium’s concerts, and may soon face picketers on their field.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s First & Goal company, which owns Qwest Field, apparently made an agreement with the local stagehands union in 2003 that said union workers would be the preferred labor source for concerts at the facility.

But union representatives told the Seattle Times that First & Goal has failed to live up to that agreement, allowing promoters to hire stagehands from a non-union firm for every concert at the stadium.

Union workers claim the firm, Event Resource Management, has underpaid union employees in the past, and even bounced paychecks after last year’s Rolling Stones concert, the Times reported.

At this point, union officials are reportedly demanding that First & Goal pay their workers for concerts at not only the stadium but also the 7,000-capacity WaMu Theater that opened in the Qwest Field Event Center last fall.

First & Goal officials, however, haven’t budged.

Martha Fuller, CFO for First & Goal and the Seattle Seahawks told the Times that the company has ensured that promoters pay nonunion stagehands as much as union stagehands for concerts, but said that a union-only contract was too restrictive.

But union officials told the paper their workers supported the construction of those facilities, and should be supported in return.

"They want public funds to build these and then they want to screw the workers? We’ve got a problem," David Freiboth, executive secretary of King County Labor Council said.