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YAY!!! Ushering and free shows!!!

It's Over!: Labor Dispute Resolved as Stagehands Strike Ends Nov. 28

By Andrew Gans
28 Nov 2007

The marquee of Legally Blonde will light again.
photo by Matthew Blank

The strike initiated by Local One, the stagehands union, on Nov. 10 has come to an end, according to NY1 and the New York Post. A tenative agreement was reached between the League of American Theatres and Producers and the union Nov. 28, the 19th day of the strike.

Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the League, addressed the press just before 11 PM with a short statement. St. Martin said, "We are pleased to announce that we have a tentative agreement with Local One of IATSE ending the Broadway strike, and we're happy about that. Performances for all shows will begin tomorrow night — once again, that's Thursday, Nov. 29 — and schedules for all production will be posted on [the League's official website]. The agreement is a good compromise that serves our industry. What is most important is that Broadway's lights will once again be shining brightly with a diversity of productions that will delight all theatregoers during this holiday time. We look forward to celebrating the season and welcoming our talented stagehands and the theatregoing public back to Broadway."

James J. Claffey, the president of Local One, made a brief statement: "Brothers and sisters of Local One, you've respresented yourselves and your families and your union proud. That's enough said right there." Bruce Cohen, the union's spokesperson, simply said, "I get to return to the land of no comment."

Details of the final agreement have yet to be made public. For months prior to the strike and throughout the strike's duration, producers and the union have been hashing out issues of work assignments, setting of a production's run crew, load-in costs and labor minimums. Increase in wages was the subject of the final day of negotiations which lasted over 10 hours.

When all Broadway shows will resume their normal playing schedules has yet to be announced, although it is expected many productions will offer shows Thursday evening, Nov. 29.

Although the previous meetings between the League and the union had been unsuccessful, there was a great sense of optimism as members headed into the Nov. 28 meeting. Herschel Waxman, the Senior Vice President of the Nederlander Organization who is in charge of Labor Relations, told NY1, "As optimistic as I was the other day, I'm equally as optimistic we'll have it done today. I've been wrong, but I swear to you, I believe we will have a deal finished today." Bruce Cohen, a spokesperson for the union, said, "The tarps are off the field. The sun is shining. We're in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series, and as Yogi Berra didn't say, 'It's not over until the fat lady sings.'"

The vast majority of Broadway shows have been closed since the strike began, and several shows have been forced to postpone their official opening nights. The lengthy dispute has also severely affected businesses in the theatre-district area. The City of New York estimates its loss at $2 million per each day of the strike.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the nation's leading industry based, not-for-profit AIDS fundraising and grant making organization, has also been adversely affected by the strike. It is during this time of the year when BC/EFA makes post-curtain call speeches asking for donating to the organization. The six weeks of fundraising leads up to the annual Gypsy of the Year competition, which has been postponed until Dec. 17 and 18 

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