B'way talks: good news, bad news?

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The stagehands union and the League of American Theatres and Producers will resume negotiations Nov. 7, nearly a month after contract talks broke off. But the renewed discussions might move Broadway closer to a strike than a resolution, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The members of the union, Local One of IATSE, voted Oct. 21 to give the leadership authority to call a strike. The next day, the league unilaterally implemented portions of its final offer, which the union had received Oct. 9, the last day the two sides talked.

Before Local One can call a strike, it must get approval from its parent union, which can happen only after a representative of the governing body attends one round of bargaining. IATSE president Thomas Short will be at the negotiations next week, sources said.

Historically, Short and Local One president James Claffey Jr. have not enjoyed a strong relationship; according to a well-placed source, however, there is a "zero%" chance that Short will fail to give Local One the authority to strike if the local wants it.

Nevertheless, there may be enough time for the negotiations to be more than a pro forma prelude to a work stoppage. The New York Times has reported that Local One has asked for three days of bargaining sessions next week.

Andrew Salomon is news editor of Back Stage East.
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