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BroadwayWorld Strike Coverage: What Now? The Facts

As Day 5 of the Broadway stagehands' strike passes with no resolution, the Broadway community begins to worry about their financial future and the length of this stand-off with one burning question: "What now?"

Members of the theatre-community wonder if and when the well will run-dry. What happens to the "starving artists"? What about the limited Broadway engagements that haven't even raised a curtain?

In efforts to provide the most exclusive coverage of the Broadway stagehands' strike, BroadwayWorld.com's News Desk Editor, Eugene Lovendusky, has done some digging to present the facts as they stand now...

What is Local One?

Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is the most powerful Broadway union made up of over 3,000 stagehands, near 500 of whom work on Broadway.

What is The League of American Theatres and Producers?

The League of American Theatres and Producers consists of over 600 members including theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters and general managers in North American cities, as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial theatre industry.

What is Actors' Equity?

Actors' Equity is the labor union that represents more than 45,000 actors and stage managers in the United States. Equity seeks to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans, for its members. Actors' Equity has announced solidarity with Local One during the strike.

What is Local 802?

Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians is the largest local union of professional musicians in the world. Local 802 fights for the interests and well-being of the musicians employed in New York's music and entertainment industries, through organizing and collective bargaining as well as through legislative and political action.  Local 802 has announced solidarity with Local One during the strike.

What are Local One and The League fighting about?

The answer is complicated, but it comes down to minimums... How many stagehands are needed for a days' work? What qualifies as a "days' work"? And how much is each stagehand to be paid for their work? Campbell Robertson of The New York Times offers an informative and in-depth explanation of the strike and both sides' issues: Read Here

Have Local One and The League returned to the bargaining table?

The latest announcement from Alan Cohen (The League Director of Communications) and Bruce Cohen (Local One Spokesperson): "Talks have been scheduled between Local One and The League of American Theaters and Producers beginning this weekend (November 17 & 18), at an undisclosed place and time."

How much longer will the strike last?

There is no confirmed date or official speculation.  Stagehands may return to work as soon as next Monday. However, some publications estimate the strike may last through Thanksgiving.

What is the Local One emergency strike fund?

President James J. Claffey of Local One says the $5.2-million emergency strike fund is "a defense fund for everyone in the theatre community affected by this labor dispute."

Where and how does the money from the Local One fund get distributed?

As of Wednesday November 14, Local One has agreed to a press black-out with The League and offers "no comment."

Do Actors' Equity and Local 802 have their own emergency strike funds?

Actors' Equity has their own $2.3-million strike fund.  Local 802 answer pending.

How are Broadway actors being paid while out of work?

Show captains have been or will be distributing W-9 forms to all Equity members.  Strike benefit checks are being distributed as Equity actors sign-in on Thursday or their next regularly schedule show time.

Maria Somma, Actors' Equity spokesperson, elaborates: "The benefit will be $405 per actor regardless if the actor makes well above minimum or not...  If the strike extends another week, that will be the exact amount that we're giving again."

What happens if the strike funds run out?

"As far as [Actors' Equity] is concerned, if we need to have another meeting to put additional funds in, then we'll have that meeting at that time," states Somma.

What are Broadway actors required to do while off work?

As of Wednesday November 14 at 11:40AM, the Actors' Equity Association Hotline for Local One Negotiation reports that cast members in shows affected by the Local One strike should continue to report to their theatres no later than half-hour and sign-in with their stage managers and Equity representative.  Actors should remain until at least curtain time, and are encouraged to join the Local One picket-line.  Actors are asked to disregard any information from their producer if advised not to report to work.

What Broadway events have been put on-hold because of the strike?

Sunday November 11: The 10-year anniversary The Lion King gala performance and party were postponed.
Wednesday November 14: Opening Night of The Farnsworth Invention has been postponed.
Thursday November 15: Opening Night of The Seafarer may be postponed.

What Broadway shows are currently closed?

The following Broadway shows (and respective houses) are closed during the strike: A Bronx Tale (Walter Kerr Theatre); A Chorus Line (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre); August: Osage County (Imperial Theatre); Avenue Q (Golden Theatre); Chicago (Ambassador Theatre); Curtains (Al Hirschfeld Theatre); Cyrano de Bergerac (Richard Rodgers Theatre); Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (St. James Theatre); Grease (Brooks Atkinson Theatre); Hairspray (Neil Simon Theatre); Is He Dead? (Lyceum Theatre); Jersey Boys (August Wilson Theatre); Legally Blonde (Palace Theatre); Les Miserables (Broadhurst Theatre); Mamma Mia! (Winter Garden); Rent (New Amsterdam Theatre); Rock 'n' Roll (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre); Monty Python's Spamalot (Shubert Theatre); Spring Awakening (Eugene O'Neill Theatre); The Color Purple (Broadway Theatre); The Drowsy Chaperone (Marquis Theatre); The Farnsworth Invention (Music Box Theatre); The Lion King (Minskoff Theatre); The Little Mermaid (Lunt-Fontanne Theatre); The Phantom of the Opera (Majestic Theatre); The Seafarer (Booth Theatre); Wicked (Gershwin Theatre).

What Broadway shows are currently open?

The following Broadway shows (and respective houses) are open, not affected by the strike: Cymbeline (Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre); Mary Poppins (New Amsterdam Theatre); Mauritius (MTC Biltmore Theatre); Pygmalion (American Airlines Theatre); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Circle in the Square); The Ritz (Studio 54); Xanadu (Helen Hayes Theatre); Young Frankenstein (Hilton Theatre).

In addition, all Off-Broadway shows are running, as well as Off-Off-Broadway, Radio City Music Hall, and all variety and concert venues.

Photo by Eugene Lovendusky: Local One union members on-strike outside the Nederlander Theatre

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From This Author Eugene Lovendusky

Eugene Lovendusky graduated summa cum laude from SFSU with a BA in Writing for Electronic Media and a minor in Drama. Raised in the SF (read more...)