Victory Gardens Theater Dismisses Remaining Staff Following Unionization Effort

The staff was informed their positions were eliminated due to 'lack of business and operational needs.'

By: Sep. 08, 2022
Victory Gardens Theater Dismisses Remaining Staff Following Unionization Effort
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BroadwayWorld previously reported that Staff at Chicago's stories Victory Gardens Theater, which has been engulfed in accusations of 'toxic behavior' and a 'lack of transparency' were seeking union representation. The remaining 16 employees, who remained in a standoff with the theatre's board of directors, had filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board.

This week, according to the Chicago Reader, the theatre dismissed the remainder of its staff following the unionization effort.

Staff members each received a termination notice stating "Victory Gardens Theater ('Victory Gardens' or 'VGT') terminates your employment effective September 7, 2022. The termination is part of a general reduction in workforce due to the lack of business and operational needs, and a change in VGT's business model such that your current position has been eliminated."

The staff launched a GoFundMe following their terminations. In a statement, they wrote "We are reaching out to our community for financial support as we begin the process of finding new jobs while mourning the loss of an institution we fought tooth and nail for. Money raised here will support people who live paycheck to paycheck, have children to support (including one pregnant staff member), and who do not have strong financial safety nets for this situation. We are also losing our health insurance coverage, which will inevitably lead to additional expenses as new plans are explored."

The GoFundMe has a goal of $20K, and has raised just over $4K as of the time of writing.

The remaining staff was represented by IATSE locals Stagehands Local 2, Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Local 750, and Wardrobe Local 769.

"Unionization gives us the power of collective bargaining and a stronger support system than we currently have access to as individual, at-will employees. Unionization guarantees us a seat at the table, as well as leverage to push for worker safety measures that will benefit all employees of Victory Gardens." the group told the LA Times in a statement at the time.

It was recently reported that the Victory Gardens board of directors informed the staff that the current artistic director, Ken-Matt Martin, had been placed on leave and that the final candidate for the open position of executive director, Marissa Lynn Ford, had withdrawn.

Soon resignations began to roll in, including acting managing director Roxanna Conner, resident directors Lili-Anne Brown and Jess McLeod, ensemble playwrights Marisa Carr, Keelay Gipson, Isaac Gómez, and Stacey Rose - each of whom shared in online posts that they had also resigned from the theater.

In a collectively signed post, the group accused the volunteer board of a "lack of transparency" and past "toxic behavior."

Photo Credit: Greg Shutters, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons