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Union Scabbing This Sunday
by Mark Belko (re-post) Saturday, Jul. 22, 2006 at 2:34 PM
Witness continued union scabbing in Pittsburgh. IATSE members to handbill on 7/23 (Sunday), but plan on not being disruptive. Construction Trades unions to cross the line?
Stagehands may vote to strike; Steelers show goes on
Saturday, July 22, 2006
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Barring a last-minute change, the Steelers World Championship celebration concert will be held tomorrow without the help of the local stagehands' union.
With contract negotiations stalled, members of Local 3 of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees will take a strike authorization vote this morning in advance of the event, which includes a concert by Bon Jovi.
But even if stagehands authorize a strike, union officials don't expect it to affect tomorrow's show.
They said PSSI Stadium Corp., which manages Heinz Field, has hired a nonunion company to do the work.
Union attorney Ernie Orsatti said PSSI made arrangements to bring in stagehands for the show when talks broke down with the union.
Whether stagehands authorize a strike vote or not, they will be distributing fliers outside of Heinz Field tomorrow outlining the situation.
"I don't know what impact our hand billing will have," Mr. Orsatti said. "It won't be disruptive."
In a statement, Jimmie Sacco, executive director of stadium management for PSSI Stadium Corp., said PSSI had hired independent production companies to produce the concert. He said they are planning to use members of the Building and Construction Trades Council, a union group, "to help produce the concert."
"These companies are experienced, and we are confident that they will produce a great show for the fans in attendance," he said.
Union members overwhelmingly rejected the last contract proposal offered by PSSI.
Mr. Orsatti said it would have established a two-tiered wage system for stagehands. Those with less than 1,500 hours of experience would have received 25 to 30 percent less in pay than others, said Local 3 President Robert Olinger.
PSSI also is refusing to pay time and a half for Sunday work, Mr. Olinger said.
The demands would be contrary to all other Local 3 contracts, the union officials said.
"That's something we could never in a million years do. We would have other employers asking for the same concessions," Mr. Orsatti said. "In this business, it's not like we're dealing with struggling employers trying to survive."
The union also has been trying to get PSSI to agree to a fixed term contract. In the past, stagehands have worked at Heinz Field under a freelance agreement typically reserved for out-of-town companies.
Even if the contract dispute doesn't disrupt tomorrow's show, Mr. Olinger said the stagehands want patrons to be aware of what's going on.
"Everyone else who works there belongs to a union, from the ushers to the groundskeepers. It's just sad. It's a sad situation," he said.
No new talks have been scheduled.
by stephen donahue Sunday, Jul. 23, 2006 at 1:35 PM
Nothing more sad than to see union workers crossing a striking union's picket line. Union scabs are low indeed. Is solidarity a dead word? Is it simply something that romantics can sing about? "Solidarity Forever" , my ass!
Of course given the behavior of the Building Trades Council it should come as no surprise to anybody that Republican PA House leadership -- Mr. Perzel -- wants to put the president of the Pittsburgh Building Trades Council on the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) one of the two bodies that has oversite over our city's finances and yes public sector union contracts.