Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Mayor Sees No Immediate B'dway Shutdown

The Associated Press
Monday, October 22, 2007; 5:49 PM

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg has offered to help get stalled labor negotiations between Broadway stagehands and theater producers back on track, but feels "at least for the next month or so, there is no danger of a work stoppage or lockout on Broadway."

"The city has a big interest in keeping Broadway going," Bloomberg said Monday. "It's part of our economy, part of our culture.

"On the other hand, (they are) private employers and (a) private union, and they have a right to negotiate without government dictating a settlement, which would clearly be wrong," he said. "We have offered to provide them with facilities and/or somebody that can keep them talking. ... And if they want to take advantage of it, they both certainly have my number 24 hours a day."

Stagehands voted unanimously Sunday to give their union, Local One, the authority to call a strike against the League of American Theatres and Producers. The vote does not mean there will be a strike by the union, since that would need the approval of the local's parent organization.

The union and the League have been meeting since summer in an effort to reach an agreement. Earlier this month, the League presented what it said was its final offer and announced it would implement some parts of that offer Monday

The two sides, wrangling over work rules and staffing requirements, have not officially negotiated since then.

Meanwhile, the union has set a new strike deadline even as they reiterated they will work this week.

"No work in December without a deal," James J. Claffey Jr., Local One president, said Sunday. "We are giving them (the League) enough time to try to make a deal. It's not beneficial to the membership of Local One to go into December without a deal. We are prepared to bargain now."

December is a lucrative time for Broadway _ many shows sell out _ and there will be increased pressure on the producers to resolve the negotiations before those popular holiday performances arrive.