Union Representing Broadway Facility Staff Negotiating New Contract With Broadway League
By Adam Hetrick
The leadership of 32BJ Local SEIU, the union representing 250 men and women who work as porters, cleaners, elevator operators and matrons in a majority of Broadway theatres, have authorized their members to strike should its bargaining committee not come to a new agreement with the Broadway League.
At a $17.25 hourly rate, members of 32BJ Local SEIU are among the lowest-paid individuals working within the Broadway community, according to a representative for the union. Its members work roughly 32-40 hours weekly. The current contract expires Dec. 30, and 32 out of Broadway's 40 theatres, including those owned by the Shubert Organization, the Nederlander Organization and Jujamcyn Theaters, in addition to the Circle in the Square, employ members of the union.
32BJ Local SEIU's bargaining committee and the Broadway League, the trade organization representing Broadway theatre owners and producers, have been negotiating terms of the new contract in recent days. Additional meetings are planned between the two parties for Dec. 14 with another to take place next week.
The union is negotiating for a new, three-year contract, which will include pay increases, expanded healthcare coverage, and an increase in employer-paid pension contributions for retirement security.
"The lights on Broadway are shining brightly, with steadily increasing gross revenues according to the Broadway League," said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, in a statement. "The men and women who work hard to keep Broadway theatres clean, operating and appealing to theatregoers from around the world also need to keep the lights on at home. They are demanding decent wages and benefits to support themselves and their families."
According to a statement released by 32BJ Local SEIU, workers are calling for healthcare coverage to begin the same week their work at the theatre commences. "Currently, with every new production, most have to work six weeks, and some 10 weeks or more, before they get health coverage. As they are also ineligible for Medicaid during these periods because they are working, many report having to skip vital medications for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and having to postpone treatments for their family members."
Broadway League executive director Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement, "We have had several days of productive negotiations and have several more scheduled. The Broadway League, and the members we represent, look forward to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with SEIU Local 32BJ."
Local SEIU is also "hopeful" about coming to a new agreement prior to the expiration of the current contract. "Our members are part of the community. They stay at their theatre for years," a representative told Playbill.com.
While members have been authorized to strike if an agreement cannot be reached, a potential work stoppage would not begin until Dec. 31.
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