Historic "Just Cause Provision" Emerges From Negotiations Between Stagehands & Producers One byproduct of the negotiated settlement between stagehands and theatre producers is a "just cause provision," which IATSE Local 1 business manager Jim Claffey described as a historic gain for the union. "The just cause provision gives us an avenue if our people are fired," Claffey told Playbill On-Line.
The stagehands have been negotiating with the League of American Theatres and Producers (League) since mid-summer, and the just cause provision is a first-ever for the Broadway union.
"Prior to this, they could be fired without discussion," said Claffey. "It's very important because it means you can go to an arbitrator, which is a monumental gain as far as I'm concerned. It's taken 80 years of work."
Claffey said some unions have a just cause provision in their contracts and some don't. "We've never had it on Broadway," Claffey said.
As for the negotiations, Claffey said, "We have a tentative agreement that will be brought for ratification to our membership. Our executive board will determine when that will occur. None of our agreements are final until the majority of our membership gives approval." The union did give and take with the League. The three-year deal comprises a 12 percent wage increase spread over the three year life of the contract. A four percent wage increase will be made in year one, with the same amount in years two and three, although one-half of one percent of the wage increase in years two and three will be made as annuity contributions. Thus the wage increase will appear as a 4 percent raise in year one, and a 3.5 percent raise in each of the successive two years.
"The annuity contribution is made to a self-vested fund that is established through the Local 1 office," Claffey said. " We invest on behalf of our membership and it's distributed individually, based on earnings, upon retirement.
The union was also able to get some key personnel upgraded for additional compensation, including the flyman, which is a term for the stagehand who takes pieces in and out of the theatre and brings the drops in and out.
There were givebacks on the union's part, Claffey said. Relief was given to the producers over certain media and television rules during publicity and promotional events and for the scheduling of additional shows and early/late shows.
Don't look for any revolution in Broadway scheduling, Claffey says, "They have kid shows and maybe a Jerry Seinfeld special, but these are not traditional shows. No one is going to come see Phantom n the middle of the day."
While the proposed contract must be ratified, Claffey is optimistic. "Both sides wanted more than they got," Claffey said, "but I think it's an agreement that is satisfying to both.
-- By Murdoch McBride