Staff of NETworks Presentations unionize

NEW YORK — Backstage workers at producing org NETworks Presentations have unionized. New members of IATSE unions include stagehands, wardrobe, hair and makeup workers on the current road tours of “Sweeney Todd,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Hairspray,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Annie.”

NETworks’ actors are not yet unionized, but Actors’ Equity is said to be in discussions with the company.

NETworks had been the single most active non-union company for touring legit shows.

The pact extends into the 2009-10 season, covering “Cry-Baby,” “South Pacific” and “Beauty and the Beast,” among others.

“This agreement expands our presence in the one-night and split-week touring markets and, as such, was a major organizing priority for us,” said IATSE prexy Matthew Loeb. A “split-week” engagement is performed in more than one venue during a single week. The process is usually costly because of the rapid set strikes and load-ins required.

NETworks shows primarily play outside Gotham, although productions of “Annie” and “A Christmas Carol” have come to Madison Square Garden during the holidays. Unionization generally provides better benefits and pay for workers, but it frequently also has the effect of driving up ticket prices.

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