Broadway stagehands vote to approve new contract

Sun Dec 9, 2007 4:29pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Broadway stagehands, whose strike shut down most of Broadway for more than two weeks over the critical Thanksgiving holiday, approved a new contract with theater owners and producers on Sunday, formally ending the dispute that cost millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Theaters and striking stagehands from Local One brokered a deal on November 28, ending a strike that began on November 10 and continued through Thanksgiving week, traditionally Broadway's biggest week after the Christmas-New Year's holiday.

Performances resumed on November 29.

"We are pleased that Local One has ratified the contract," the League of American Theaters and Producers, which represents theater owners and producers, said in a statement, adding a note of encouragement for theatergoers to return to Broadway shows.

Most Broadway shows, including "Wicked," "Jersey Boys," "Chicago" and "Avenue Q," went dark during the strike, the longest to hit Broadway in more than 30 years. Eight shows, including "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!," remained open due to separate contracts with the union.

The dispute was over how many stage hands must be employed by each production. The union -- representing 3,000 electricians, carpenters, sound and lighting technicians and scenery and prop handlers -- was resisting cuts in staffing unless they were offset by concessions in a new contract.

The strike was the longest since a 1975 musicians' strike shuttered Broadway for more than three weeks. Broadway went dark for four days in 2003 in another musicians' strike.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by Todd Eastham)

<p>A Broadway street sign hangs in New York's Time's Square, November 29, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>