Battle Continues over Reform of Buffalo Stage Union

Trustee John Scardino says that his work is done reforming Local 10 of the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees in Buffalo, NY, with a faction of part-time workers gaining more freedom to participate in the union.  But the frmr. president, who was suspended by IATSE officials in NYC, is promising to “take other steps” by going to court.

Not long after the settlement of unfair labor practice charges at the Natl. Labor Relations Bd. (NLRB) in his favor, the windows of dissident Bruce Beyer’s carpentry shop — where he and his family live on the 2nd floor — were riddled by someone firing a pellet gun.  He prefers to consider it a prank, although none of his neighbor’s windows were hit, and fellow dissident Vince Poloncarz received similar treatment recently.

In 1999, Beyer and other stage workers complained to IATSE’s NYC headquarters that the Local 10 hierarchy was freezing part-time stagehands out of union membership by, among other things, charging a $3,000 initiation fee.  Without the membership, the part-timers were effectively excluded from referrals for jobs at Buffalo stages.  By passing on their privileges to their children, the local insiders ran the union like a family-controlled business, according to critics.

In ’99, NYC officials ordered the Buffalo hierarchy to adopt an unbiased “call list.”  Finally, last August, Scardino was installed as trustee to carry out the reforms.  Last month, he helped end the NLRB case with a deal in which the local union will pay $25,000 to 15 workers.  Opposing the settlement is frmr. Local 10 president Randall Krautsack, who claims that the old referral system rewarded experience, and that the new system refers workers to various workers regardless of their skill level, “a dangerous practice.”  Krautsack indicated that he may take further legal action now that the NLRB case is finished.  “In a real court, I think the outcome would be very different,” he said. [Buffalo News, 5/25/03]