Locked-out IATSE Local 58 stage technicians to begin picketing St. Lawrence Centre on Labour Day

TORONTO, Sept. 4, 2011 /CNW/ - The union that represents the recently locked-out stage technicians at Toronto's St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts will begin picketing on Monday, September 5, which is Labour Day. The picketing coincides with the first performance to be held at the Centre since management initiated the lock-out on August 13.

"We have made every attempt to reach an agreement but it is clear that the Centre's management is not interested," says Jim Brett, President of Local 58.

"We have offered considerable concessions that will reduce our overall labour costs by about ten per cent. And this is on top of the fact that our existing wage rates are already about ten dollars an hour less than what our members make in the commercial theatres.

"Management's public statements on this dispute deliberately ignore these concessions in order to make us look unwilling to bargain, which is the opposite of the truth. We have met the Mayor's ten percent cost reduction target but management refuses to accept our offer. We seem to be talking to an empty house.

"Speaking of empty houses, that's the real problem for the Centre, not labour costs." Brett adds. "The portion of an average ticket price at the Centre that represents the cost of IATSE labour is very small, even in a half-full house. Just the add-on ticket service charge every patron is forced to pay is about three times the cost of the professionals who make the production work.

"If the Centre mounted mainstage productions that people actually wanted to see, we probably wouldn't be in this situation. Attendance has been pretty dismal and isn't getting any better because mainstage productions are not capturing public attention."

Brett says the picketing will be ongoing until an agreement is reached.

"We will not be impeding patrons from entering the Centre if they wish," Brett says, "but we will be communicating our dispute with management and explaining that the people behind the scenes of the production they are about to see are replacement workers who may not be experienced professionals and who are unfamiliar with the venue."

September 5 is also the 113th anniversary of the founding of Local 58 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The local union was chartered in 1898.

IATSE Local 58 represents hundreds of stage professionals at every major theatre in the city, as well as the Air Canada Centre, Roy Thomson Hall and the Canadian National Exhibition. See IATSE58.org.

SOURCE International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 58

For further information:

Jim Brett - 416-364-5565

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