After 19 days of picketing and a loss of millions to New York City, the stagehands are back to work and Broadway is all lit up again.
The end of the strike came with a late night agreement between the Local 1 stagehands union and the League of American Theatres and Producers November 28th, the third day of marathon sessions between the two sides.
The agreement is tentative because the five-year contract that was agreed upon, and details of which were not disclosed, must be approved by the union membership. The previous stagehands’ contract expired at the end of July and negotiations between the two sides began before that.
While talks had centered on how many stagehands are required for each Broadway show – the old contract said four stagehands per play no matter what, which the union wanted to keep in place while the league wanted to only hire necessary workers – the final hang-up was the issue of wages. The issue came down to how much of a raise stagehands would get in exchange for changing the work rules.
The strike shut down 27 shows (that became 26 when "Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" received a court order forcing it to open November 23rd) including "The Lion King," "Wicked," and "Mamma Mia!" – and for Broadway and New York City, it couldn’t have been worse timing.
Being closed during the Thanksgiving holiday week meant missing out on the extra influx of tourists and Christmas shoppers, which cost not only Broadway, but actors, musicians and press agents and surrounding restaurants, stores, hotels and even hot dog vendors.
Now that the strike is over, several shows that were in previews when the walkout began will now have new opening nights, including Aaron Sorkin’s "The Farnsworth Invention," "August: Osage County" and an adaptation of the Mark Twain comedy "Is He Dead?"
Broadway’s last strike, the 2003 musicians walkout, shut down the stage for four days. Before that, the musicians shut down musicals, but not plays, for 25 days in 1975.