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IATSE Acts Locally

Despite a decision by International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) President Tom Short to shut the door on wage concessions to keep struggling Broadway shows alive, the six individual New York City Locals have agreed to offer those concessions to at least one more show.

Short had said after IATSE agreed to submit to 25% across-the-board pay cuts for its workers in six shows--"Phantom of the Opera," "Les Miserables," "Rent," "Chicago," "The Full Monty," and "Kiss Me, Kate"--that the international organization would not extend that deal to any other shows. However, he left the door open for individual Locals to agree to pay cuts if they determined it was in members' best interests.

IATSE Locals in New York represent stagehands (Local One), treasurers and ticket sellers (Local 751),wardrobe personnel (Local 764), make up artists and hair stylists (Local 798), press agents and managers (ATPAM Local 18032), and scenic artists (USA Local 829). Those six Locals held a series of meetings last week to discuss extending the concessions to other shows that are having trouble staying afloat now that tourism has fallen off, and reached an agreement Wed., Sept. 26 to offer the deal to "The Music Man."

Actors' Equity, the union of professional performers and stage managers, also agreed to the 25% pay cuts for members at "The Music Man," and the Dramatists Guild and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers--representing playwrights and stagers, respectively--have authorized their members to waive royalties as they see fit. According to a statement released by "The Music Man," additional financial support came from the Nederlander Organization, which is not charging rent for the Neil Simon Theatre; from unnamed "suppliers and vendors"; and from "the producers and royalty recipients."

'Wife' Has No Requests; 'Beauty' Does

Producers of two other shows also met with IATSE representatives last week. Stuart Thompson and Manhattan Theatre Club Executive Producer Barry Grove, producers of "The Tale of the Allergist's Wife," did not ask for concessions but wanted to open lines of communication in case the tourist situation were to deteriorate further, due to the United States declaring war, for example.

"Beauty and the Beast" General Manager Alan Levy arranged a meeting after the matinee performance last Sun., Sept. 30, attended by musicians, performers, and IATSE members. According to one person who attended, Levy said Disney Theatricals, which produces the musical, would agree to open its books to prove the need for 25% salary rollbacks for four weeks.

Now that tourism is beginning to rebound, several actors, musicians, and other theatre professionals are privately muttering that they are being asked to shoulder a disproportionate share of the fiscal responsibility for the shows they are in. If the box office figures rebound to pre-attack levels, they say, the producers are unlikely--extremely unlikely--to return salaries to earlier levels. As one professional pointed out with some bitterness, producers who reap windfalls under those conditions would be the beneficiaries of a terrorist act.

Perhaps in response to union workers' growing resentment over producers' demands, Levy said at the meeting that Disney would return union members' salaries to their former levels if the show's weekly net reached $450,000 before the end of the four-week concession term. However, he also said that if the unions did not agree to the salary cutbacks, Disney would post the closing notice this week. However, with gross receipts increasing for the second consecutive week, Levy later agreed to hold off on posting a closing notice until next week or later.

ATPAM President Maria Somma told Back Stage Mon., Oct. 1 that no other Broadway productions have requested salary redactions, "but some shows will probably ask for more weeks" after the initial four-week periods expire. She would not speculate on whether such requests were likely to be granted.

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