League and 802 Settle Over Stagehands’ Strike

Volume CIX, No. 5May, 2009

The Executive Board of Local 802 has accepted a settlement of a grievance for musicians who lost work as a result of the stagehands’ strike in 2007.

Readers will remember that when stagehands walked out, Local 802 members were instructed by their employers not to report for work. After the end of the strike, Local 802 filed a grievance seeking lost wages and benefits. 

Pursuit of the grievance through arbitration was difficult and risky. Although it would seem logical that telling employees not to report for work is a lockout, in fact unions have uniformly lost claims of this kind, including those unions who refused to honor Local 802 picket lines in 2003 under similar circumstances.

Nonetheless, Local 802 pursued a claim and, after the initial grievance meeting, filed for arbitration. The union deferred arbitration hearings until after Equity, which had a parallel claim, received an award. The hope was that Equity would win since it had superior language in its contract, thus giving Local 802 at least one favorable precedent to cite in our arbitration.

Unfortunately, Equity won some health benefits, but not wages. Therefore, we agreed to settle the matter with the League on similar terms.

Under the settlement, the League will pay $13,000 into the Emergency Relief Fund as compensation for health benefit payments that the union had already provided to musicians who would have fallen off the plan because of the strike.