Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Olympia stage hands plan informational picket January

Date: January 24, 2005

Contact: Katy Fogg, or
360/402-6601 c

Olympia stage hands plan informational picket January
28, Saturday evening, 7 pm, Washington Center.

After more than a year of negotiations, the stage
hands at the
Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia
are still far from an agreement on a labor contract
between management and the International Alliance of
Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 15.

Frustrated by management's lack of progress during the
negotiations, the stage hands are letting the public
know why the venue, owned by the City of Olympia and
partly funded with city tax money, is not an equitable
place to work. On Saturday, January 28, the stage
hands will conduct an informational picket for the
"Blues Night Out" concert at the Washington Center.

Seeking to improve their working conditions, the stage
hands voted in August 2004 to establish a collective
bargaining unit and have I.A.T.S.E., Local 15, as
their representative. They unanimously rejected
management's final contract proposal in October 2005.
In December, a meeting with Federal mediators failed
to bring the parties any closer on an agreement, and a
second meeting was scheduled for January 12, 2006. On
January 9, management postponed that meeting until
after CenterFest, the Washington Center?s annual
black-tie gala fundraiser.

"That rescheduling is fairly revealing of management's
during this entire negotiating process," stage hand
Nick Shellman told the Olympia City Council last week.
While the city contracts with the Washington Center to
manage the facility, the stage hands do not have the
protections and job securities that are enjoyed by
city employees under their union contracts. The
Washington Center leases its building from the city
for an annual fee of one dollar and received $238,000
in lodging tax money last year.

For the stage hands, several non-economic factors are
at issue.
Management's final proposal does not cover all the
stage employees, nor does it cover events staffed at
its Port of Olympia property. There is no equitable
system of offering work to its employees, and very
little advance notice of the work schedule.

"In an industry where work begins very early in the
day or goes well into the night, and the work week may
be anywhere from zero to seven days, the scheduling
issue is critical," said Katy Fogg, another stage
hand. "There is zero job security. For our lives and
livelihood, we have to work at several theatres, so in
order to be available for work we must have reasonable
notice of the schedule."

In addition to improved scheduling, the union would
like to see a small health care contribution and a
pension contribution for all of the stage hands.
Currently only two permanent stage employees receive
benefits from the Washington Center.

1 comment:

Olympia Workers Association said...

there were 2 comments here, where did they go?