Stagehand strike leaves Broadway dark

by Josh Einiger
WNBC News

A walkout by stagehands continues to force dozen of Broadway shows into the dark.

And union leaders say the two-day long walkout could stretch for weeks.

Striking stagehands serenaded Sunday by a supporting cast of unionized musicians.

Meanwhile, inside a nearby church, union leaders unleashed rhetoric that was anything but subtle.

James Claffey Jr., the Local One Union Chief said, "they can not go through our contract after 120 years and just annihilate us."

Local One Union Chief James Claffey Jr. told reporters the strike was the stagehands' only option as they try to protect what they claim is rightfully theirs.

And he brought support, the leaders of the Musicians and Actors Unions.

John Connolly of the Actors' Equity Association said, "I think it's remarkable here in the United States today that what seems weird to some people is that working people will actually stand up and defend themselves."

The press conference came a day after producers and theater owners assailed a practice they call featherbedding staffing requirements producers insist are way too high.

On Saturday, Charlotte St. Martin of the League of American Theatres and Producers said, "we think it is fair to be able to hire the workers we need and to pay them for the work that they do."

After months of heated negotiations, stagehands walked off the job in time for yesterday's matinees causing the multimillion dollar business of Broadway to ground to a halt.

Stagehands insist they've already compromised on a number of producers' demands and that they won't return to the table until the producers show them respect.

Actor David Hyde Pierce said, "the producers depict these guys as lazy donut eaters who are sitting around doing nothing."

As of Sunday, no new negotiations have been scheduled between the two parties.