Show is Back at Carnegie, but Without a Settlement

The show goes on at Carnegie Hall.

(from New York Times, October 3, 2012) Carnegie Hall was recently flooded with picket lines that forced the cancelation of their gala opening concert. A long time dispute over jurisdiction was the cause of the strike. Carnegie Hall plans to expand their education department, over which union stagehands would like some control. Stagehands and union supporters picketed for hours outside the performance hall before dissolving, claiming “significant progress” on the issue. Just the next day, though, picketers were again posted in front of the famed venue, relying on social networks to plan the picket.

The canceled performance, set to feature the Philadelphia Orchestra and its new director, was followed by a dinner; a tradition even the picket lines could not end. With almost 600 attendees paying thousands for food and drink tickets, the event raised nearly $3.5 million.

The chairman of the board at Carnegie Hall, Sanford Weill, gives his reasoning for denying the union’s jurisdiction requests. Stagehands are hired to work at performance rather than educational venues. Wages for these workers would be a wasteful expense as the money could be going to promote and improve the education of students. Stagehands in an instruction center are superfluous and “unprecedented,” adds Weill. The board is keeping in mind that a positive and stable relationship with the union is necessary to create the best learning atmosphere for the novices.

The venue and performers alike were greatly affected by the union’s strike. The American Symphony Orchestra was scheduled to perform the day after the hall’s opening gala. The set list included several symphonies rarely performed, so anxiety was high among players. The strike continually delayed rehearsals until the concert was finally enjoyed later in the evening. Although the labor dispute remains unresolved, Carnegie Hall maintains close contact with the union, and all other performances have since gone on as scheduled.