Stagehands and Producers Reach Agreement

By Alfred Branch, Jr.

The 19-day-old strike by the stagehands union against theater owners and producers is over, the two sides announced late Wednesday night in Manhattan. Specific terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but all of the 27 closed shows were slated to resume tonight, Nov. 29.

Several factors were among the issues debated by the two sides, but according to the New York Times, the two groups agreed on a set minimum of 17 stagehands on-duty during the “load-in” for a show, the period when a show is initially set up in a theater. And, stagehands are expected to receive annual raises in excess of 3.5 percent for the length of the new contract, among other concessions.

Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the producers group called the agreement “a good compromise” that both sides can live with. “What is most important is that Broadway’s lights will once again shine brightly, with a diversity of productions that will delight all theatregoers during this holiday time. We look forward to celebrating the season and welcoming our talented stagehands, and the theatergoing public, back to Broadway,” she said in a statement.

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Published estimates said New York City was losing $2 million per day in revenues because of the strike, and theater owners and producers lost more than $35 million in ticket sales over the two-plus weeks, compared to the same two-plus week period last year.

Ticket brokers also lost considerable income.

Cary Silkin, owner of, said almost 40 percent of his business is for Broadway shows so the strike severely cut into his bottomline. “It absolutely hurt us,” he said, adding he was elated the strike was finally over. “We obviously had to give refunds for canceled shows, and very few customers were buying stuff for the future. Typically, people would say ‘I’m going to New York in three months, I need tickets for then,’ but the strike really killed all that.”

A relieved Jimmy Tighe of Manhattan Entertainment could barely be heard over phones ringing and the sounds of a busy office. “Very happy it’s over,” he said. “I gotta get back to work.”

“The people of Broadway are looking forward to returning to work, giving the theatregoing public the joy of Broadway, the greatest entertainment in the world,” said stagehands union President James J. Claffey, Jr. in a statement.

(The image accompanying this story is from

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