TORONTO, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - Members of Toronto's stagecraft technicians'
union will be leafleting outside Maple Leaf Gardens on Monday, September 8
rather than inside working behind the scenes on the One X One children's
charity benefit gala to be hosted by actor Matt Damon.
"It is almost unbelievable that the producer of this major event would
risk using uncertified people who have never worked in the Gardens and shun
IATSE Local 58 members who have staged every event there for decades," said
David Baer, president of the 110-year old local of the International Alliance
of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Maple Leaf Gardens has been owned since 2004 by Loblaw Companies Ltd.,
which promised to develop the historic site but has since only rented it to
movie productions, all of which have employed IATSE technicians.
Baer contacted Loblaw in early August to explain the history of the
IATSE/MLG relationship and to alert the company to potential safety issues in
staging such a large event in the near-derelict building with inexperienced
help. Loblaw's reply brushed the union off, disclaiming "any obligations to
"Loblaw may or may not have a legal obligation to IATSE, we'll let the
labour board decide that," says Baer. "But it has a moral obligation to ensure
the safety of those in their building."
"Maple Leaf Gardens has always been a very difficult place to rig. To
make matters worse, there has been no maintenance on the ropes for years and
there are no safety lines for the beams. Using people who have never worked in
this 75 year-old building in order to save a few bucks on labour at a
high-profile, all-star event like this is risky and irresponsible."
Baer also wrote late last week to Matt Damon's Hollywood agent, Jennifer
Allen of PMK HBH Public Relations, to explain the situation and give her
notice of IATSE's intentions to leaflet the event. There has been no reply as
"Matt Damon is a great actor who belongs to a great union, the Screen
Actors Guild," notes Baer. "He has worked with IATSE members on productions
throughout his career. We have no doubt that he would prefer that seasoned
professionals stage this event for the charity that is so close to his heart.
We hope his agent communicates the situation to him, even if he cannot reverse
this unfortunate decision by the production company. We do not want to
blindside anyone on this."
If there is no resolution to this matter, IATSE Local 58 members will be
politely handing out explanatory leaflets in front of the Gardens to gala
"We obviously have no dispute with those who support this fine charity,"
says Baer, "but they should know what's going on behind the scenes."
For further information:
For further information: David Baer at (647) 241-5588