WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The City of Wichita rejected an updated contract from the union stagehands after Music Theatre Wichita and other groups said they’re concerned about how it would impact their educational programs.
“This was an attempt in a number of respects to create uniformity and to remove ambiguity,” said Tim Mcculloch, Lead Negotiator of International Alliance of Stage Theatrical Employee’s.
That’s what union stagehand workers are looking for in the form of a new contract. The one in place is more than two decades old, and they say it doesn’t include enough workers.
The union also wants some verbal agreements they have with several non-profits added in writing.
“That created issues among various Century II tenants and users because it is not fair to one group if they get an exemption that another group does not,” said Mcculloch.
“It could have caused financial ruin for us,” added Wayne Bryan, Producing Artist Director of Music Theatre Wichita.
Bryan said Music Theatre Wichita pays about $110,000 to union stagehand workers, and the new contract could have spelled out financial disaster for them and required them to have four union stagehand workers every time they operated in these shops.
“This would have required us to come up with an additional $67,000 or so,” explained Bryan.
Bryan also said the new contract meant he would have to pay more union workers for simple tasks.
“It looked like we had to use four union people for a minimum of four hours to open the trunk of a car and take the costume out,” said Bryan.
For aspiring talent, the programs are a stepping stone to their greater ambitions.
“Anything that I can do to have a greater understanding and meet people and just really learn more about the industry is invaluable,” said Edward Sturn, an apprentice.
Now, that the deal has been officially struck down by council, the two groups are now asked to find a common ground that benefits both parties.
“We were just worried that we would not be able to afford that and we wouldn’t be able to work side by side with our union,” said Bryan.
Mcculloch said now they are going to take this to their national union to see what they should do next.
Both sides have voiced their support of each other and say they should be able to come up with a deal.