Broadway theaters may open the new year with a more quiet run than the already low-key month of January they’ve been anticipating. Crain’s has an update on the ongoing negotiations between the Broadway League and 32BJ SEIU, the union that represents some 260 cleaners, porters and matrons, who are demanding a $1.50 per hour pay increase and no cuts to their health insurance benefits. Yesterday the union voted to approve a possible strike if contract negotiations aren’t finalized by December 31, when the current contract expires.
Essentially, Broadway would still be buzzing through the holidays, which is its busiest period, and could only be shut down by the strike first thing in January, when business pretty much grinds to a halt anyways. And of course, as of right now there’s nothing stopping theaters hiring other workers during the strike, unless other unions join in.
All of this would be not nearly as cataclysmic for Broadway ticket sales as a little over two years ago, when Local One, the Broadway stagehands’ union, went on strike for 18 days, shutting down all but eight shows just as theaters geared up for the most important stretch of the season between Thanksgiving and the new year. If this strike happens, though, it’ll be the third on the great white way in the last seven years, which suggests that more fundamental problems with the way Broadway does business need fixin’.