Organized July 17, 1893. The first organization among stage employees began in New York City in the early seventies, with the formation of fraternal and relief societies. Later, with the rise of the Knights of Labor, the stage hands in several of the large cities became identified with that movement.
The locals of stage hands, however, followed the swing of the craft unionists from the Knights of Labor to the American Federation of Labor, and affiliated with the latter organization as local trade-unions.
In 1893 the 11 local unions then existing met in conference in New York City and formed the National Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Five years later, with the chartering of a local in Montreal, Canada, the alliance became International In character and changed Its name to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Changes In the theatrical business have determined the changes In scope of the organization. The alliance was founded at a time when the field was largely limited to legitimate dramatic productions in the very large cities. Stock-company production in smaller centers followed, then vaudeville and road shows. Still later, with the extension of jurisdiction to motion-picture-machine operators, the field became practically universal.
Jurisdiction over the motion-picture-machine operators was claimed by both the stage employees and the electrical workers, and both these organizations took projectionists Into membership. The theatrical stage employees’ organization was the more active and more successful In the new field, but for years the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers contested their right to the motion-picture men. A decision of the 1914 convention of the American Federation of Labor granted the jurisdiction unequivocally to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
Following this decision the title of the alliance was expanded to International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators of the United States and Canada. The new title is not, however, used by the American Federation of Labor, in which organization it is still chartered as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees of America.
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