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New York Broadway stagehands' strike enters third day
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08:51, November 13, 2007

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There will be no performances on Broadway in New York City Monday as the stagehands' strike enters its third day.

More than two dozen Broadway plays and musicals, such as "The Color Purple," "Chicago," "Grease," "Phantom of the Opera," have been shut down in the past two days by the work stoppage.

Shows produced by non-profit organizations or shows in theaters owned by non-League members were not affected. But Monday is the day off in observance of Veterans Day, an official national holiday in the United States.

The stagehands union, Local One, said Sunday it will not return to the negotiation table until producers show them some respect.

Union leaders also turned down Mayor Michael Bloomberg's offer to mediate a settlement.

On the other hand, the League of American Theaters and Producers highlighted examples of what they called "featherbedding," describing rules that require a certain number of stagehands to be present, even when there is no work for all of them.

In a statement, the producers said Local One is "protecting wasteful, costly and indefensible rules that are embedded like dead weights in contracts so obscure and old that no one truly remembers how, when or why they were introduced."

The major sticking point has been the number of stagehands required to work each show. Producers accuse the union of forcing them to hire and pay more workers than are really needed. But the union says it will not give up job protection.

The 3,000-member Local One says it made a last attempt at negotiations with the League of American Theatres and Producers, but the three-month-long could not reach an agreement. So the union started a strike on Saturday, two days after talks broke down on Thursday.

On Sunday, dozens of stagehands lined up at the Times Square in the chilly weather, carrying hot coffee to warm their hands.

A sign said there were no Broadway shows available and suggested off-Broadway options.

No new negotiations have been scheduled between the union and the league since the two sides remain far apart.

How long most of Broadway would remain dark remains uncertain and the impact is harder to determine. The league said a strike would cost the city 17 million U.S. dollars a day.

Mayor Bloomberg says he hopes the strike can end soon because money is being lost.

"The worst damage is to those who work in the theater -- the stagehands, the actors, the ushers, the musicians and the people that own the plays, the investors," said the mayor. "There are people in the neighborhood, restaurants, that are going to have less business."

In March 2003, more than a dozen Broadway shows went dark after musicians went on a four-day strike, costing the city millions of dollars.

Source: Xinhua

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