It was just weeks ago when a Philadelphia stagehands union strike caused big problems for Philadelphia Theatre Company and its production of The Mountaintop at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, forcing the company to stage the performance there without much of the crew. Now that the Philadelphia Theatre Company strike has been resolved, the stagehands have moved on to their newest target: legendary Philadelphia concert venue The Electric Factory.
On February 20th, IATSE Local 8 (the stagehands) posted the following message on the union’s Facebook page:
It’s time to organize some Factory Workers. Stagehands at the Electric Factory in Philly have worked for [l]ow wages while the owners of the Club reap huge profit. TIME TO GET TO WORK.
Some of the responses to that post:
Michael Turner: HELL YES! What a great idea for the stagehands who put on great shows here. Its about time they get their fair wages and bennies!
Antonio Karantonis: Very glad to see this. I’d much rather spend my entertainment dollars at union venues!
Michael P. Mule: Better idea … Lighter fluid and a match …
Then, on Thursday morning, Local 8 took its first action, posting:
Cut and post this message on the Drop Kick Murphys Facebook Page.
Philadelphia based Electric Factory Concerts is undermining the area standard set by IATSE Union Stagehands in Philadelphia. We ask you Boycott this company.
The lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys, a popular Massachusetts-based Celtic band scheduled to play two shows at the Electric Factory next week, saw the post and contacted the union:
Some people talk the talk. Others walk the walk. Dropkick Murphys lead singer Ken Casey reached out to IATSE Local 8 stagehands tonight to offer his help in resolving our problems at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. With this kind of support from the band, our union will be able to help the workers at this concert venue. Looking forward to the shows March 8th and 9th. On behalf of the Philadelphia Stagehands, Thank You.
One has to wonder if Erykah Badu will be as cooperative. The enigmatic “First Lady of Neo-Soul” is performing at the Electric Factory on Saturday night for a $50-a-head crowd, and Local 8 has challenged her to cross the picket line. They’ve also called for a boycott of the show:
BOYCOTT THE SATURDAY MARCH 2nd ERYKAH BADU SHOW AT IN PHILADELPHIA AT THE ELECTRIC FACTORY. EFC UNDERMINES AREA STANDARDS SET BY PHILLY STAGEHANDS.
And this morning, the union made it clear that the giant inflatable union rat will rear its head today at the offices of Electric Factory Concerts:
Looks like we will need to put a sweater on the rat today. The Rat is heading to Northern Liberty’s to deliver our message to Adam Spivak and Electric Factory Concerts. Not in our City. No more. Stagehand standards will be defended. The war is on. This ones for the workers.
Representatives of Local 8 and Electric Factory Concerts were unavailable for comment.