As Stagehands Strike, Broadway Shows Don’t Go On – New York Times

Is there something in the air? First the Writer’s Guild strike and now this one. This is probably a popular (and potent) time to strike since the holidays are beginning and we are nearing the end of the calendar year.

The dispute has largely been over the rules in the contract that govern how many stagehands must be called for work, how long they work, and what kind of tasks they can perform. League members say the current rules invariably result in groups of stagehands on the clock with nothing to do.

This year the league, an organization typically weakened by its natural divisions between producers and the theater owners to whom they pay rent, has been determined to gain more flexibility in those rules.

Union officials have said they are open to changes as long as the new rules come with benefits of equal value in return. The league has proposed a package of raises, but James J. Claffey Jr., the Local One president, has said there is no way to determine the amount of stagehand work that will be lost under the looser rules that the producers are proposing. About a quarter of the 2,200 active members of Local One, who build scenery, maintain props and install and operate lighting and sound equipment, work on Broadway.

Stagehands fall into four wage categories. The highest-paid, like head carpenters and electricians, currently earn a minimum of $1,600 a week on a running show; stagehands in the lowest-paid category make a minimum of around $1,225. With overtime, additional work assignments and certain premium payments, wages can end up being quite a bit higher.

$1,225 per week is over $63,000 yearly and that’s not bad – at least not in DC. Perhaps in NYC that’s poverty level considering rents and all.

OK – so I don’t know all the details but I feel bad for all the people who are visiting NYC and may not get another chance to see a show.

Oh yeah – Happy Veterans Day.

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