Broadway nears shutdown

Local One readying counteroffer

Broadway is one step closer to a potential shutdown, with labor talks between Rialto producers and the stagehands’ union coming to a close Tuesday with the League of American Theaters and Producers putting what they called their best and final offer on the table.

Soon after, a rep for the stagehands’ union, Local One, said the org was readying its own counteroffer in response.

According to a statement from League exec director Charlotte St. Martin, the producers’ final offer includes a 16% wage increase over five years, a separate 10% increase during a production’s load-in period, another increase for the lowest paid stagehands, and a new sick pay provision.

“It is a compromise that preserves many contract provisions Local One sought to protect, but at the same time liberalizes some archaic work rules,” said St. Martin.

Local One offered no immediate statement in reply.

The two orgs have been locked in often tense contract negotiations for several weeks. Producers hope to change work rules they consider outdated and overly costly, while stagehands aim to preserve what they consider the hard-won protection of their livelihoods.

If an agreement is not reached, the mostly likely result would be a lockout initiated by the producers, an action that would darken the majority of Broadway offerings. Over the past few years, producers have amassed a “mutual assistance fund” of around $20 million to see shows through such a work stoppage.

The last Rialto shutdown, a 2003 strike called by the musicians’ union, shutdown Broadway for four days at an estimated loss in box office of about $5 million.

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