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Potential Strike Update: Broadway House Staff Union and League Meet Today

Negotiations for the new union contract (the current one expires on December 31) that covers over 240 theatre service workers began on December 3, 2009 and resumes today between 32BJ SEIU and The Broadway League.

Variety reported on Tuesday that the members of SEIU 32BJ have now voted to authorize a strike should the union's bargaining committee decide that one is necessary. While this doesn't mean that they will strike, it does bring the threat of a strike closer to reality. 

Discussions with other unions including Equity who might also then honor a strike are also said to be underway. 

Earlier today, Stephanie Gaskell of the New York Daily News reported that Broadway may be acing yet another stagehand strike, as a group of about 150 cleaning workers who tend to many of Broadway's houses - members of 32BJ SEIU - are threatening a strike if dissatisfied with their current contract negotiations.

The union members are currently in closed-door negotiations with the Broadway League on their contract, which expires on December 31 of this year. The workers include cleaners, porters and matrons who earn approximately $16 an hour working at over 30 Broadway houses, including those for "Wicked," "The Lion King," "Mamma Mia!" "Jersey Boys," "In the Heights," "God of Carnage" and "Shrek the Musical."

The demands of the workers include a $1.50-an-hour pay raise and and no health insurance cuts.

Says 32BJ's secretary-treasurer: "In this environment, every employer is complaining. Broadway is doing far better than anybody."

The Daily News notes that while the union plans to hold a strike authorization vote today, a strike would not go into effect until 2010.  It is possible that in the event of the strike, the shows will continue, with the theaters hiring replacement workers, however spokespersons for the Broadway League refused to comment.

The last strike to hit Broadway occurred two years ago when the stagehands union shut down the Great White Way for eighteen days.

With more than 110,000 members in eight states and Washington, DC, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country. 32BJ is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an organization of over 2 million members united by a belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. To raise industry standards and improve lives, SEIU and 32BJ focuses its resources on organizing new members into the union. The union consists of security officers; doormen, porters, and maintenance workers; bus drivers and aides; window cleaners and food service workers.


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