“Stagehands of Ten Twin City Theaters Strike”

Artifact Type Mainstream Media, Sources
Publication Minneapolis Journal
Place Minneapolis, MN
Publication Date September 18, 1927
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Headline: “Stagehands of Ten Twin City Theaters Strike”

Subhead: Break Follows Disagreement Over Renewing Expired Contracts—Movie, Stock and Other Showhouses Affected

Stagehands in 10 vaudeville, motion picture, stock and other theaters in the Twin Cities went on a strike at midnight last night following a break in negotiations with theater owners over new contracts to take the place of those which expired September 1. The strike involves approximately 150 men.

W. A. Steffes, president of the Northwest Theater Owners Association, said last night that all of the theaters involved in the strike would conduct all of their performances today.

Among the demands of the stagehands was one day off in seven with full pay for the seven days, and the right of appeal in the cases of men discharged by a theater. They also sought an increase in wages for some of the hands.

Steffes Explains Stand

“Every theater will operate Sunday as usual despite the strike,” Mr. Steffes said.

“We have been informed definitely that the strike is going on, but it will not cause any interruption in theater performances. This matter has been pending since September 1 when the contract with the stage hands expired. We have had meetings since then but no agreement has been reached.

“The strikers, for one thing, are demanding one day off with pay. As a matter of fact they have the right of a day off each week now, but not with pay. They are also demanding that the right of discharge be placed in their hands and, in addition, they want to cut the number of performances per week to 14 in theaters which are now operating on a schedule of 21 performances a week.”

Fight for Day Off

Decisions of the local stagehands’ union to strike came after a visit here by C. C. Crickman, international organizer of the union, who recommended to the international body with headquarters in New York that the stagehands be allowed on day’s rest in seven, and the strike was given sanction by the international body, William Dunn, business manager of the local union, said last night.

“We will fight for this day off, if it costs a million dollars,” Mr. Dunn said. “We are determined to obtain it. We do not believe that our demands are excessive.”

He said that the union asked in addition to the one day rest in seven, the right of appeal for a man discharged by a theater.

Ask Appeal of Discharge

“Any man who is discharged, with the exception of those found incompetent or drunkards, we believe is entitled to appeal his case to the union executive board. We also ask that a guarantee of 20[?] weeks’ employment be given the heads of the various departments, the property men, assistant property men, the carpenters and the electricians.

“It is also asked that the men who clear the stage be given the wage of $3.75, instead of the $1.75 a performance they are now receiving. The request for one day’s rest in seven world work no hardship on the owners of the theaters as they would have to employe only one additional man. Only on man would be off each day.”

Joseph Elwood, business agent of the local motion picture operators union, said last night he had wired the international headquarters asking a decision as to whether the operators in the Twin Cities should strike in sympathy with the stagehands’ walkout.

He said the international body may “wait and see if the theater owners import nonunion stagehands to take the place of those on strike. If this is done,” he said, “I believe there is a possibility of the operators also striking. At any rate, we shall wait for at least a half day before any action is taken.”

There was also talk that the musicians union would strike in sympathy with the other two unions.

The Shubert theater will require only one stage setting for this week’s production. The set used last week was removed by union stage hands last night. The theater planned to hire carpenters and workmen to construct a new set today for the rest of the week and to have employees operate lights and curtain.

Archive Minnesota Historical Society
Citation “Stagehands of Ten Twin City Theaters Strike,” Minneapolis Journal, September 18, 1927.
Location MinneapolisMinnesotaSaint Paul
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