Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

IATSE’s Show-Stopping Strike

There’s no telling when the curtain’s coming back up — Broadway’s stagehands union (Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes) went on strike this Saturday, closing down most of New York City’s big productions. The union’s major complaint isn’t money — if the theaters are to be believed, the typical Broadway carpenter, electrician, or technician banks “more than 150,000 dollars, with many stagehands earning more than 200,000 dollars” — it’s work rules.

Specifically, the union wants theaters to renew their commitment to staffing ratios that can be disproportionate to a production’s staffing needs. As the theaters’ spokeswoman said, “We simply don’t want to be compelled to hire more workers than needed and pay them when there is no work for them to do.”

First the writers went on strike. Now it’s the stagehands. What’s next — scalpers?

What “The Lion King” and “Spamalot” might look like if this strike drags on:

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