Local 802 is calling for a boycott of the new off-Broadway show Reefer Madness after learning that its producers are paying wages and benefits far below area standards in the off-Broadway field. The show began performances at the Variety Arts Theatre on Sept. 15.
As Allegro went to press, Local 802 was also filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the producers discriminated against union members in putting together the show’s five-piece band. Reefer Madness is being produced by the Nederlanders.
“It is clear to us that the producers went out of their way to keep union members from being hired for this show,” Assistant to the President Bill Dennison told Allegro. “We are going to do all we can to make sure the public is aware of this gross violation of our members’ rights, as well as the unfair treatment being accorded those musicians who were hired for this show.”
As one of the largest and wealthiest theatre organizations in the country, the Nederlanders have had a long relationship with Local 802 and other AFM locals across the country. Local 802 President Bill Moriarity told Allegro, “We’re surprised by the steps they seem willing to take to avoid paying area-standard wages and benefits to the musicians in this show. However, we have been re-assessing our relationship with this organization for some time now, because of actions of this kind.”
Informational leafleting will take place in front of the Variety Arts Theatre before each performance. A major demonstration at the theatre was being planned for the show’s opening night, early in October.