Kravis Center, Stagehands Union Settle Strike
West Palm Beach's Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and the union representing its stagehands have settled outstanding contract issues and ended a four-day strike that canceled four performances of the hit show "Jersey Boys."
The two sides issued a joint, positive statement on Friday and then began crash preparations to unload idled trucks to prepare for the next performance. After Saturday's 2 p. m. show, "Jersey Boys" was scheduled for 20 more performances through Jan. 6.
The contract signed Friday appears to end a 12-year dispute between Kravis and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees over hiring, labor practices and compliance issues. The union complained that Kravis has ignored orders from judges and the National Labor Relations Board to bargain in good faith, hire stage hands through the union and pay $2.6 million in back wages.
The terms of the contract were not disclosed. According to the joint statement, it calls for “the withdrawal of all pending unfair labor practice charges, and a resolution of the back pay elements of the case.”
The Palm Beach Post's Jane Musgrave reported the Kravis Center was under tremendous pressure to get the labor dispute behind it.
It is estimated that the Kravis Center lost as much as $100,000 each time it canceled a performance, forcing it to give refunds to as many as 2,195 ticket-holders for shows that were sold out. With another 20 performances scheduled through Jan. 6, losses were mounting. The center said it grossed $4 million in 2010, the last time the show came to West Palm Beach for the same-length run.
Privately, some union members said they were told the Kravis had agreed to pay $2.2 million of the $2.6 million the NLRB said the West Palm Beach performing arts hall owed stagehands for unilaterally ending contract talks in 2000, firing six full-time workers and throwing the union out of the hall.
IATSE Local 500 business representative Terry McKenzie said: “The union looks forward to building a positive relationship that contributes to the success of the Kravis Center and gainful employment for the people we represent.”