Stage Alliance Pay It Right!

Stage Alliance Inc. Arbitration to Proceed July 7th

Dear Stage Alliance Employees:

I am writing to update you on the ongoing dispute over stagehand wages at the Long Center for Performing Arts between IATSE Local 205 and Stage Alliance, Inc. An arbitration hearing will take place July 7-8, 2016 to rule on this dispute. The following details the events thus far.

Since 2010, Stage Alliance has applied an A or B rate to shows performed at the Long Center. The A rate secured a wage of $17.00 p.h. and was typically applied to shows with ticket sales over a determined seating capacity. The B rate secured a wage of $15.75 p.h. It was applied to maintenance calls and shows that did not mean the A rate criteria. Each year, stagehands worked substantially more A rate hours than B rate hours.

In 2014, the Union secured our first multi-year Agreement with Stage Alliance and our first wage increase in four years; a 25 cent increase on both the A and B rates increasing them to $17.25 p.h. and $16.00 p.h. respectively. However, in September 2015, Stage Alliance informed Local 205 that due to the signing of a new contract between Stage Alliance and the Long Center, the classification system was to change. Effective immediately, all shows would now be classified as B rate with the A rate only applying to Broadway shows, of which the Long Center has perhaps two per year. Or, the we could accept an offer of one flat rate for all shows performed on the Dell Stage of $16.60 p.h. As this is not what the Union had bargained for, and with $16.60 p.h. being far below our area standard for stagehand wages, we sought legal counsel and filed a grievance against Stage Alliance disputing the wage cut, and an unfair labor practice charge for not providing Union requested information and for making a unilateral change without first bargaining with the Union.

Since my initial letter notifying you of this wage cut, there have been several meetings with Stage Alliance to try and resolve the dispute. During which time, it was revealed that the new contract between Stage Alliance and the Long Center, signed September 2015, no longer has A and B rates as originally presented to the Union. Rather, it has one mid point rate for all work on the Dell stage. As such, Stage Alliance has maintained it’s position that stagehands be paid one flat rate of $16.60 p.h. for all work performed on the Dell Stage. Local 205 has maintained the position that our Agreement, which was negotiated on the basis of past practice of the application of the A and B wage rates and the assurance that no future changes were anticipated, be honored. When a dispute remains unresolved, the grievance moves to arbitration. Arbitration is expensive. Stage Alliance asked if the Union would consider a cheaper, half day mediation prior to arbitration. Mediations are used to find solutions through compromise. A date was set last March for a mediation hearing and the Union held several meetings with Stage Alliance employees to determine what compromise, if any, stagehands would be willing to accept. Through these meetings, it became apparent that compromise was not palatable to the majority of affected stagehands and that what we all really want is for our wages to be reinstated as they were prior to September 2015. As such, mediation was put to one side and a date was set for arbitration.

In May 2016, National Labor Relations Board reviewed our unfair labor practice charge. The board agent ruled against the union’s charge regarding withheld information. Prior to the ULP hearing, Stage Alliance had provided the requested information, namely a copy of the contract between Stage Alliance and the Long Center. The part regarding the failure to bargain is being deferred to the arbitration hearing.

Below is list of what the union believes to be misclassified Long Center shows. If you worked as a stagehand on one of these shows, you were paid $1.25 less per hour than we believe you should have been, and not only were your wages reduced, but so were your health and annuity benefits, which are 8% and 4% respectively of your gross wages. To date, the shows in dispute are:

Frank Warren, Ballet Folklorico, MexNet Dinner, Screwtape Letters, UB40, Bollywood Masala, Neil Gaiman, Vietnamese Live, Hook movie, Les Ballets Trockadero, ASO Pops, Arlo Guthrie Peking Acrobats, Sweet Honey In the Rock, Vocalosity, Carol Burnett, Shen Yun, Star Trek Ultimate Voyage, Black Violin, Buick GMC Dealer Meeting, Legend of Zelda, and Mandy Patinkin.

The arbitration hearing will take place on July 7-8, 2016. At this hearing, both parties will argue their case in front of the arbitrator. Based on the arguments presented, the arbitrator will make a ruling on the dispute. The arbitrator’s ruling will be final and binding. Local 205 will be arguing for our wages to be reinstated until the expiration of our current Agreement in 2017. Additionally, our grievance asks for all affected stagehands to be made whole, meaning that hands be compensated for their loss in income since September 2015. There is no guarantee we will win this grievance, but despite the financial cost to the Local, we feel that we must do everything we can to get our wages back.

In Solidarity,

Rachel Magee,
IATSE Local 205 President.