Sunday, November 11, 2007

Broadway Workers Follow Hollywood Writers on to the Strike Line

Unions The AFL-CIO Blog is reporting:

After months of unsuccessful negotiations, the members of International Alliance of Threatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local One walked out Saturday, leaving most of Broadway’s stages dark.

In a statement, IATSE President Thomas Short says negotiations were going well when he joined Local One’s bargaining team in lengthy discussions with the employers on Wednesday and Thursday, but:

I am dismayed that just hours after my departure the employers made a 180-degree turn and began bargaining in a regressive manner. This action demonstrates a clear lack of will on the employers’ part to reach an agreement.

The main issues in the contract talks are work rules and wages.

Wow, no Office and no Phantom of the Opera. What's next? No Mozart?

PS

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2007/11/broadway-worker.html

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Comments

just to get some discussion going for labor law neophytes, I was wondering if anyone could post some general info on the extent to which the writers, and their union, are subject to NLRA restrictions. Are they employees or independent contractors?

Posted by: eli | Nov 11, 2007 8:19:02 PM

That's a great question. The Broadway workers--stage hands, etc.--are more obviously employees, but the writers can be tricky. I am no expert on the Hollywood labor market (unless being a Netflix subscriber qualifies), but my sense is that the issue is most complicated for movies. The TV writers are more traditional employees, as they usually work for a single employer on a regular basis. Some of the movie writers, however, often write a first draft of a script either on their own or as part of the initial phases of a movie deal. Although they could become employees during production, these types of writers may have a difficult time qualifying as employees under the NLRA's test (which is essentially the common-law "right to control" analysis). The facts, as always, are critical, but I suspect that a lot of them would be considered independent contractors.

What's interesting about the writers' strike is that their status doesn't matter much. As long as the writers as a group--both employees and independent contractors--can exert pressure on the studios, the strike will serve its purpose. Moreover, the weak relationship that some of the writers have with the studios also means that the studios have less control over the those writers. Short of blacklisting writers, there's less opportunity to retaliate against them.

Posted by: Jeff | Nov 12, 2007 7:57:12 AM

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