Skip to main content

Just in time for the post Holiday South Florida Social Season, the clock just may have run out for the management of Palm Beach County's premier performing arts center. A production of Jersey Boys is scheduled to open tomorrow night and as of right now union truck loaders are refusing to cross the line, as are UPS drivers.

Upcoming shows booked in coming weeks at the Kravis Arts Center include Whoopi Goldberg, La Traviata, Paul Anka, Mary Poppins, Natalie Cole, Franki Valli, Sheryl Crow, Matisyahu and numerous other ballet, local theatre, Palm Beach Pops, PB Opera and more.

Labor dispute history and today's news regarding the strike under the scriptful orange thingy....

A strike this morning by the local stagehands union could threaten tomorrow night’s opening performance of the Jersey Boys at the Kravis Center.
Union members who arrived early today to set up the show are refusing to cross the picket line, said Terry McKenzie, business representative for the local International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
“That show’s not going to happen,” he said.
Union members decided to set up the picket lines and disappoint hundreds of ticket-holders because members have had enough of the decade of recalcitrance by Kravis officials, McKenzie said.
“We want a contract,” he said, while picketing outside the center of Okeechobee Boulevard. “We’ve had enough. It’s been more than a decade of labor law violations. It’s like a cancer. They’re slowly bleeding us to death.”

The local union received a boost last month from the national AFL-CIO:

With the backing of the national AFL-CIO, the local stagehands union on Wednesday began urging people to boycott the Kravis Center. Throughout the 12-year labor dispute, members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have never asked patrons to punish the performing arts hall, said Terry McKenzie, business manager for the 400-member local. But, he said, when the AFL-CIO put the Kravis on its national boycott list, union members decided to do so. Kravis attorney Steve Schuster said the action is not unexpected. The two sides are trying to settle the dispute that began in 2000 when Kravis officials unilaterally ended contract talks. Courts have ruled that the center engaged in unfair labor practices. The National Labor Relations Board said the center owes workers at least $2.6 million for illegally denying them employment.

The trouble began apparently around the year 2000...

From the opening days of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, the IATSE stagehands have been an integral part of the performances you see on stage.  We work behind the scenes, installing and running all aspects of the shows.  We perform our tasks with pride, expertise, and efficiency, and we love our jobs.

It was therefore a great personal loss to each of us when, after years of mutually satisfactory partnership, the management of the Kravis Center-- for spurious reasons--  summarily opted to break our work agreement, throw us out, and hire others to replace us.

The legal ramifications of so abruptly breaking a labor contract without Cause have been wending their way through the courts for the past decade.  At every ruling the Kravis has been told they are wrong on all counts and ordered to reinstate the illegally fired workers and fulfill their contractual agreement.  They continue to drag their feet and concoct ways to avoid obeying the courts' orders.  Contempt of court charges were threatened in the last ruling.  Should this situation continue, that will come to pass, with the attendant fines upon the Kravis Center.

Our demands are not odd nor are they unreasonable.  At this writing, the only point that stands officially at issue between us is the Kravis management's  insistence on reserving the first ten positions of any work call to allot to the persons they hired to replace us when they began this fight.  They want to give the illegally hired workers inappropriate job preference over better qualified union members, have them work under different workplace rules, for different (lesser) wages & benefits.

In 2008 the union won its case:
Kravis loses lawsuit to union stagehands
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
WEST PALM BEACH — In a ruling that could put millions into the pockets of hundreds of stagehands who lost their jobs at the Kravis Center eight years ago, an appeals court on Tuesday found that the performing arts hall engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to reinstate union workers.
"They lost every single point," said Alan Glassman, business manager for the local stagehands union. "As far as we're concerned, it's over. It would be smart for them to say they lost and start negotiating with us. But with them you never know. They've thrown so much money at this."
Neither Kravis Center Executive Director Judith Mitchell nor the Kansas City attorney who represented the center in its estimated $1 million legal fight returned phone calls for comment.

After years of stalling and unsuccesful appeals, earlier this year, the NLRB sided again with the union...

NLRB issues second complaint and seeks $2.6 million plus interest
from Florida performing arts center after it failed to comply with Board order

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a second complaint against the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach alleging violations of federal labor law in a dispute that dates back more than a decade.
NLRB attorneys also on Monday issued a Compliance Specification that calculates the Center owes about $2.6 million in back pay and benefit contributions, plus interest that continues to accrue, to several hundred members of the stagehands’ union who were unlawfully denied employment.

The Board ruled in 2007 that the theatrical venue violated federal labor law by failing to bargain to impasse with its union, IATSE, by unilaterally changing wages and conditions of employment, and by refusing to use the union’s hiring hall in more than 700 productions staged since charges were filed in 2001. The Board’s order was enforced by the DC Circuit Court in 2008.

The Compliance Specification (in case 06-CA-036484) calculates the amount that carpenters, electricians, and other skilled laborers would have earned had the Center used the hiring hall, as required by a collective bargaining agreement between the employer and union.

The agreement had expired and the parties were bargaining for a renewal when the Center declared negotiations had reached impasse, fired six union employees and declared it would hire a set of non-union core employees to perform work previously performed by union members.

In its 2007 decision, the Board ordered the Center to offer reinstatement to the fired workers and return to bargaining for a new contract. Negotiations did resume, but the Center again declared impasse in 2011 and imposed essentially the same conditions as it had previously.

The complaint issued this week by the NLRB Regional Office in Tampa (case 12-CA-027075) alleges that in the fall of 2010, the Center declared impasse even though it had not bargained in good faith to impasse. The complaint also alleges that the Center unlawfully fired three employees and unlawfully insisted on employing a core crew rather than filling stagehand jobs through the hiring hall.

These hard working union men and women did not ask for this fight with an entrenched Judy Mitchell and her Palm Beach 1% backers....

We don't want to fight with the Kravis Center:  We want to work for them.  In that spirit, we have continued to fill work calls for them, and even to represent the hall for the many presenters who insist on IATSE stagehands to insure a safe and efficient backstage environment.  We've been told by many touring companies that we are the best, most efficient crew in the nation.  We are very proud of that.  This beautiful facility and this, our hometown community, deserve no less.  We hope that the management of the Kravis Center agrees.  We hope they will agree to resolve this conflict once and for all, and let us all get back to doing what we do best:  our jobs.
but enough is apparently enough, so now the ticket holders, local hotels, restaurants, fans of the arts and the local hires and ancillary businesses who enjoy incomes due to the presence of the venue all stand to take a hit until the venue management follows the law and does the right thing.

Originally posted to route66 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKinTN, boadicea, Mentatmark, JayRaye

    I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's. - Mark Twain

    by route66 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:41:54 PM PST

  •  Tipped, Recced, Republished, Keywords added (0+ / 0-)

    To In Support of Labor and Union with picket line and solidarity key words added.

    Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

    by Mentatmark on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:45:40 PM PST

  •  I used to work with S Florida stagehands in an (0+ / 0-)

    earlier life. These are the folks that make magical things happen every day and night.

    There's nothing much wrong with a closed mind that a closed mouth wouldn't cure.

    by numi on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 03:12:22 PM PST

  •  This is my guy Terry McKenzie! Being interviewed (0+ / 0-)

    last night on the teevee. I'm so proud of him. Terry was elected the Business Agent of local 500 in June, 2012 and he was the President of his local 12 years ago when this mess first started.

    I guess it's karma that if the Kravis will negotiate now, they will be sitting across the table from the same man they fired in the first place.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site