Morning News: Dispute Over What?

Sarah Krulwich/The New York Times

The stagehands’ strike is over at last — at any rate, it’s “over”; the settlement has to be ratified by the rank and file. So. Who won? What was accomplished? Let’s see what the Times has to say.

But among the changes the league was able to achieve, according to officials involved in the talks, was a daily minimum of 17 stagehands on the load-in, the lengthy and costly period when a production is loaded into a theater. In the recently expired contract, producers would set a number of stagehands needed for a load-in — say, 35 — and all of them would have to stay every day for the entirety of the load-in, an arrangement that producers said often left large groups of stagehands with nothing to do.

Now, I’m sure that this means something. Campbell Robertson, who wrote the story, is one of the newspaper’s great stylists. If I worked in the theatre world, I’d know exactly what the “league” of theatre producers obtained in these negotiations. As it is, I have the vague idea that they don’t have to pay as many stagehands (for doing “nothing) while a new show is mounted. I can’t see, thanks to my lack of professional expertise, is the missing sentence that says (I think) something like this: “Having hired as many as 35 stagehands at the beginning of the load-in, the producers are free fir the first time to reduce that complement later to a number that suits their needs, or to a minimum of 17, whichever is higher.” 

The strike cost everybody millions of dollars. Broadway revenues were a trickle of their seasonal gush. The City alone is said to have lost about $40 million in indirect revenues. So we’re all glad that the strike is over, and that the lights will be shining brightly on the Great White Way. Mr Robertson’s story captures the euphoria of the moment, as bitter opponents smile, shake hands, and make nice. I just wish I had a clearer picture of what happened.