B’way locals band together

Coalition's objective is to 'speak with one voice'

NEW YORK — The seven Broadway locals of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have banded to together to form the IATSE Broadway Council.

According to a union press release, the object of the coalition is “to speak with one voice with producers, theater owners and the League of American Theaters and Producers during future threats to the health of Broadway and other labor issues.”

The seven locals include Local 1 (stagehands and sound designers), Local 751 (treasurers and box office), Local 764 (wardrobe), Local 306 (ushers and porters), United Scenic Artists Local 829, Local 798 (hair and makeup artists) and the Assn. of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers Local 18032 (press agents, house managers and company managers).

“During the recent crisis, producers would invite two or three of the larger stage unions to hurried meetings to find a means to save Broadway shows and union jobs when the World Trade Center disaster shut down the city,” said Ed McConway, stagehand and president of Local 1. “Heads of all the unions showed up, streamlining the process. This crisis brought us together. We found sitting as a collective a positive experience that united us. As organized labor, we learned to become a lot more organized.”

The Broadway Council is expected to invite other stage unions that are not members of the IATSE to become a part of the coalition.

Individual agreements

After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center sent Broadway B.O. plummeting, the producers of “Chicago,” “The Full Monty,” “Les Miserables,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Rent” joined together on Sept. 18 to negotiate their own emergency plan with IATSE president Thomas Short, which resulted in a 25% across-the-board pay cuts for union members working on those five shows. Shortly thereafter, the producers reached similar agreements with other unions and guilds, such as Actors’ Equity and the American Federation of Musicians Local 802.

The Bruce Cohen Group, which handles press for IATSE, released the following statement regarding the creation of the Broadway Council:

“The events of Sept. 11 caught the League of American Theaters and Producers totally unprepared, costing the Broadway industry crucial time. The unions will press for the development of a comprehensive plan for marketing, advertising and labor relations should a similar crisis ever arise again.”

On Sept. 20, League president Jed Bernstein told Daily Variety, “We never went forward to negotiate a group solution. Different shows have different economic concerns.”

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