Striking Broadway Stagehands, Producers Restart Contract Talks

Broadway's stagehands and theater producers have resumed talks in their first meeting since a walkout by the stagehands union shut down more than two dozen plays and musicals.

The two sides were expected to continue meeting Sunday after convening Saturday at an undisclosed location. It was the first time they had met since Nov. 8, when Thomas C. Short, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, gave Local 1 authority to strike. The walkout two days later forced 27 productions to cancel shows during the run-up to one of the most lucrative times of the year for Broadway, Thanksgiving week.

Local 1 and the League of American Theatres and Producers would not comment on the resumption of talks.

Pressure to settle the contract dispute is increasing as the holiday approaches and losses mount for the shows, which include some of Broadway's biggest hits, such as "Wicked," "Jersey Boys," "The Phantom of the Opera," "The Lion King" and "Mamma Mia!"

Ticket sales for Thanksgiving week could easily top $1 million for several of those shows. One limited-run, holiday attraction, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," has 15 performances scheduled for next week to take advantage of the crowds expected in the city for the start of the Christmas shopping season.

The stagehands, who include scenery and prop handlers, carpenters, electricians, and lighting and sound technicians, have been working without a contract since the end of July. Negotiations have focused on work rules — how many stagehands are required to open a Broadway show and keep it running.