Broadway’s Latest Drama

Contract negotiations between Broadway stagehands and theatre producers remain tense as members of the stagehands union voted October 21st to authorize a strike but agreed to remain on the job through Thanksgiving.

The move is the latest attempt by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 1 to break an impasse in contract negotiations with the League of American Theatres and Producers. The two sides have been meeting since summer to hammer out a new contract but remain at odds on a wage increase and staffing requirements.

"No work in December without a deal," said Local 1 President James Claffey Jr. "We are giving [the League] enough time to try to make a deal. It’s not beneficial to the membership of Local 1 to go into December without a deal. We are prepared to bargain now."

Although a strike isn’t a given, it’s a sizeable threat toward the upcoming holiday season. December is prime time for Broadway because of the influx of tourists, so producers may be under the gun to resolve the dispute.

However, Charlotte St. Martin, the League’s executive director, said the threat of a strike is just par for the course.

"Today’s strike authorization vote is a typical part of the bargaining process with Local 1," she said. "As it has done twice during the two most recent negotiations, Local 1 has, once again, threatened to strike during the busy holiday season when the harm would be most severe."

The League presented what it called its final offer in October, saying that some parts of that offer would go into effect October 22nd. Contract talks haven’t resumed since then.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has offered to help get the parties back to the bargaining table in order to keep the Broadway lights on.