"The League does not want to see Broadway go dark, and we have no present plans to initiate a lockout. But we are committed to achieving a fair contract [with Local One, the stagehands union], and in an effort to do so we have offered significant wage increases," St. Martin stated.
The League and Local One have been unable to come to agreement on points of flexibility within designated work assignments, as well as in the reduction of labor and cost for the load-in process of scenery for a new production.
In her Oct. 15 statement, St. Martin added, "We are seeking an end to antiquated rules that require us to hire more stagehands than we need, and pay workers who have no work to do…
"The Stagehands Union has rejected our offer, and instead, has announced it will take a strike vote on Sunday, Oct 21st. So while the Union considers whether to darken Broadway, come see a show. We hope that before the Union calls a strike they will consider these issues that are so crucial to the health of the industry, as well as the impact such action will have on our city, our industry, the actors, musicians and all the others who work on Broadway."
Local One, the Broadway stagehands union, announced Oct. 12 that a meeting has been called for Oct. 21 in order to ask its members to "give authorization to the union leadership to take any job action necessary in light of the possibility of the producers implementing new work rules." The meeting does not imply that a strike will necessarily take place. Local One president James J. Claffey Jr. states that all options will be weighed so that the union may take any action necessary should Broadway producers seek to implement the terms of the proposed contract that was rejected by the union. The meeting is a response to Local One's concerns that rather than locking out the union, Broadway producers may seek to implement the final offer they presented to Local One on Oct. 9.
During the last negotiation on Oct. 9 Local One refused the League's final offer, countering with its own terms. Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the League, stated the counter offer from Local One "made no progress on any of the issues we have identified as crucial to these negotiations." The League added, "Were the League to accept the final offer dictated by Local One, the Local One labor costs for new plays and musicals would rise by 30% for new musicals and 44% for new plays, over the life of the contract."
Claffey's rebuttal stated, "The union addressed nearly every item on the producers' list and offered imaginative solutions that met the producers' requests… What the producers failed to do was recognize our suggestions with exchanges of its own. What they failed to understand is what I said publicly and privately in the last year: Local One is open to exchanges on work rules and other areas, but would not make a concessionary agreement of any kind. Local One will not accept cuts."
During the month-long negotiations, the League has been bargaining on behalf of the Jujamcyn and Shubert theatre owners, who account for 22 of the 39 Broadway houses. The Nederlanders, representing 9 Broadway theatres, are under a separate contract with Local One and are at the table as observers.
Only the Broadway productions housed within these negotiating theatre umbrellas will be affected by a potential strike or lockout. The houses unaffected include the Hilton Theatre (Young Frankenstein), the New Amsterdam (Mary Poppins), as well as Broadway's nonprofit sector, including Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre Club and Roundabout productions.
Both the League and Local One claim substantial reserves ($20 million from the League and $4 million from Local One), which they hope will ease some of the financial losses, were a lockout or strike to occur. In addition, Local One could relocate some of its members to other venues in television and various venues throughout the metropolitan area, citing "Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, City Center, hotels trade shows, and all of Lincoln Center (there are as many Local One jobs at Lincoln Center alone as there are on Broadway.)"