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Talks break off in Broadway strike

Talks broke off Sunday between striking Broadway stagehands and theater producers, and performances for more than two dozen Broadway shows were canceled through Nov. 25, the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Broadway Labor
Stagehands and a stage manager, center, picket outside "Grease" at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York. So far, the strike has shut down more than two dozen shows.Tina Fineberg / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Talks broke off Sunday between striking Broadway stagehands and theater producers, and performances for more than two dozen Broadway shows were canceled through Nov. 25, the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“We are profoundly disappointed to have to tell you that talks broke off tonight, and that no further negotiations are scheduled,” Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the League of American Theatres and Producers, said in a statement.

“Out of respect for our public and our loyal theatergoers, many of whom are traveling from around the world, we regret that we must cancel performances through Sunday Nov. 25,” she added.

Bruce Cohen, a spokesman for Local 1, the stagehands’ union, said that before the talks broke off, the producers informed the union that what the local had “offered was simply not enough.”

The union declined further comment.

The two sides met Sunday for more talks about holding a marathon, more than 12-hour session on Saturday.

Pressure has mounted for a solution to the work stoppage, which began Nov. 10, because Monday starts the Thanksgiving holiday week, one of Broadway’s best weeks of the year. Many shows top more than $1 million for the week.

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.

Before Saturday, the two sides hadn’t talked since Nov. 8.

The shows idled by the strike include some of Broadway’s biggest hits such as “Wicked,” “Jersey Boys,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Lion King” and “Mamma Mia!”

“We presented a comprehensive proposal that responded to the union’s concerns about loss of jobs and earnings and attempted to address our need for some flexibilities in running our business,” St. Martin said. “The union rejected our effort to compromise and continues to require us to hire more people than we need.”