It's finally come to this. The lights of the Great White Way have gone dark in a dispute between the theater stagehands of Local One and producers and theater owners. The labor dispute which has been simmering for months and left the stagehands without a contract for an equal time, resulted in a shutdown of Broadway shows on the verge of the theater district's most profitable season. The stalemate came to to a head after the two sides could not rectify their differences when it seems that some Broadway producers were raking in millions, while others were being hamstrung by expensive work rules that inflated their costs. The effects of a strike won't be limited to those strictly in the theater business. Restaurants, wait staff, midtown bartenders, parking garage attendants and countless others also will likely suffer with any slowdown in theater business.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on both sides to resolve their differences, saying in a statement, "While this is a private labor matter, the economic impact is very public and will be felt far beyond the theaters closed today."
The walkout follows three months of negotiations. At issue is a set of new work rules for stagehands involving how many of them work on a particular show and for how long, as well as what duties they perform. Producers say they have to pay for long stretches of idle time.
A strike has almost all but been assured since negotiations between the two groups broke down earlier this month. We hope the matter comes to as quick a resolution as possible.
(BroadwayLights, by purplemoonlight at flickr)