NLRB Rules on Union Charges Accusing Rhino NW of Unfair Labor Practices

SEATTLE, May 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — A complaint alleging unfair labor practices and notice of hearing was issued by Region 19 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against event staffing services Rhino NW, paving the way to a negotiated contract for some 70 local riggers. In the complaint, issued on April 27, 2016, the NLRB alleges that Rhino NW unlawfully retaliated against riggers who serve as leaders in the union organizing drive to negotiate a contract.

The complaint is designed to force Rhino NW to honor its employees’ federally protected collective bargaining rights. The hearing is scheduled to take place on July 26, 2016, 14 months following the date the original petition was filed by International Alliance of Theatrical Stage (IATSE) Local 15 seeking to represent the riggers of Rhino. Since the NLRB officially certified Local 15 as the exclusive bargaining representative of these workers, Rhino has refused to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with Local 15 violating federal law.

Sal Ponce, President of IATSE Local 15, said that this action by the federal government is another important step toward getting a contract. “The riggers are simply trying to bring Rhino NW to the table to negotiate a fair contract,” said Ponce. “In the end, we want nothing more than a contract that provides a fair wage and industry-standard working conditions.”

Rhino has consistently refused to bargain with IATSE Local 15 despite having been ordered to do so by the federal government. It has removed union-supporting employees from its schedule and deactivated their employment in order to punish them for standing up for the union and to discourage other employees from exercising their rights.

“The employees have been attempting to collectively bargain for more than a year. At this time they have little job security, no sick leave or health insurance, lack family-friendly scheduling, and work at hourly rates well below industry standards. They need and deserve a contract,” said Ponce.

The riggers do the critical backstage work at Western Washington live events and concerts such as The Gorge (George), xFinity Arena (Everett), White River Amphitheater (Auburn), Tacoma Dome (Tacoma), and occasionally at the two Seattle sports stadiums, Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.

Supporting Each Other

Tonight at Seattle City Hall there is a hearing about to start regarding the proposed basketball arena. We are here to share our views with the City and County. Stay tuned to hear what happens with this issue!



Occupy Seattle update: Rally Saturday 10/22

Labor support for Occupy Seattle is continuing, and growing – as is happening throughout the country.

Local 15 has had proportionately one of the strongest showings of support for Occupy Seattle.  We have members going down to Westlake Park every day, and for the major labor mobilizations we’ve had 10-20 people out each time.

Occupy Seattle is asking that we come out this Saturday, October 22nd, to join with communities of color for a noon rally and 2:00 march to express concern about police misconduct.  If you can be there, please show your colors: wear an IATSE t-shirt, jacket, cap or button, and carry a Local 15 sign.

In addition, labor is helping to bring supplies to Occupy Seattle.  The Boeing Machinists are working on getting Occupy Seattle a generator, as well as medical supplies.  If you can provide food, water, blankets or other supplies, please bring them to the office of the Labor Council (Room 206 in the Labor Temple, 2800 1st Avenue in Belltown – just down the hall from Local 15), Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm; or the Seattle/King County Building Trades Council, 6770 E Marginal Way S, Building E, Room 360 (South Seattle Community College, Georgetown Campus), Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 11:30 am or 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm; or the Teamsters, 14675 Interurban Avenue S, lobby, in Tukwila, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.  They particularly need: megaphones for general assembly meetings; reflective flags and cones; caution tape; reflective vests; flashlights (preferably the kind you can crank and reuse); rope; duct tape; reusable water bottles; metal spoons; reusable bowls; and – if you’re out late – middle of the night coffee drops.  (Please do NOT bring bread, peanut butter or hand sanitizers – they’re overwhelmed with those for right now.)

This is labor’s fight – we are part of the 99%.  There’s now an informal labor caucus working to support Occupy Seattle.  And it’s working: the New York Times reports that last week’s mobilization was the fifth largest in the country, behind New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.  This weekend is a chance for us to show our community allies that labor is there for more than workplace issues – we want a fair economy with family-wage jobs, but we also want social justice for everyone in our community.

In solidarity,


Philadelphia IATSE strike

Theater Workers Unhappy With Contract; Exec Says Kimmel Is at a “Critical Time”

By J. Cooper Robb

On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts canceled all performances at the Kimmel Center, Academy of Music and Merriam Theater. The cause for the disruption was a work stoppage by IATSE, Local 8, the union that represents ushers, box-office personnel, stagehands and wardrobe employees. The Kimmel Center’s contracts with the union expired at midnight Sept. 30. Although no new contract agreement has been reached, the union and Kimmel did manage to agree on Oct. 1 to a one-week “cooling off” period. During that time, performances will continue at the Academy and Merriam as well as the Kimmel’s Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater and Innovation Studio.

What happens next however is anyone’s guess. Kimmel Center President and CEO Anne Ewers issued a statement that the “Kimmel Center leadership is optimistic that the renewed negations will be productive.” In an interview by phone on Monday night, Kimmel Center Senior Vice President Thor Steingraber described the Kimmel as being at a “critical time.” According to Steingraber, the funding the performing-arts center receives from the state of Pennsylvania was reduced from $2 million for the 2010-11 season to $150,000 for the 2011-12 campaign.

Wages and benefits are at the heart of the disagreement. Asked to characterize the talks, Steingraber says the two sides remain apart on both the length and the terms of a new contract. “Taking a long-term contract would be irresponsible for us to do at this time” says Steingraber, pointing to the uncertainty surrounding the Philadelphia Orchestra’s bankruptcy as one reason the Kimmel is seeking a shorter deal than the five-year contract Steingraber said the union proposed. For the time being all performances at the Kimmel Center’s three on site venues as well as the Academy of Music and Merriam Theater are scheduled to proceed as usual. When the two sides do resume negotiations (most likely on Mon., Oct. 10) the Philadelphia Orchestra will be mere days away from their opening night (Oct. 13) followed by the launch of the Orchestra’s new season on Oct 14. Steingraber said that on Oct. 1, the Kimmel alerted patrons of the cancellations and offered to refund or exchange tickets for the canceled performances. Steingraber said that the Kimmel is prepared to do the same in the event of any future cancellations. He also reported that in the event of a work stoppage, the Kimmel may look into staging events at alternate venues around the city. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees represents about 1,000 workers at the Kimmel Center, Merriam Theater and Academy of Music.

Read more:

March for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security


March for a Decent Future

on Medicare’s Birthday

No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

Saturday, July 30th, 12:00 n – 2:00 pm

Safeco Field (1st & Atlantic)

We’re facing an unprecedented attack on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – just at the point when our health care is most at risk.

Not only the right wing, but President Obama and some Congressional Democrats are talking about balancing the budget by raising the retirement age at which we can collect Medicare and Social Security, reducing benefits or eliminating cost-of-living increases and other mechanisms to place the burden for the national debt on working people.

Local 15’s membership has endorsed single-payer healthcare as the best solution for the problems that we’re facing in maintaining our own benefits, and extending affordable quality healthcare to all.

As with the hotel workers’ rally, let’s make sure that Local 15 has a visible presence at this action, part of a national campaign with rallies all over the country.  If you’re planning to come, please let me know (206-441-1515, ext. 225; so that we’ll have enough Local 15 signs to show everyone that we’re in the house.

This event is sponsored by United for Single Payer-Seattle, Physicians for a National Health Plan-Western Washington, Health Care for All-Washington, and Washington State Alliance for Retired Americans.

Two important actions on July 22 and July 30

There are two important actions coming up that Local 15 members should support if possible.  There will be a separate post for the second rally, but on Friday:

Rally for Worker Justice at Seattle Luxury Hotels

Friday, July 22nd 4-6pm

Westin Hotel(1900 5th Ave, corner of Virginia, Seattle)

This rally is led by the members of UNITE HERE 8, the hospitality workers union. These workers have already staged one picket at the Westin. We will be joined by unions and members visiting and working in the hotel.

This summer, 1400 hotel workers whose union contracts have expired are joining together to fight for a better life. Most are workers of color, immigrant, women, or LGBT who are uniting to demand a share in the economic recovery that hotels have enjoyed.  They are trying to transform hospitality jobs into middle class jobs for themselves and many thousand yet to be organized workers.

During the recession, hotels protected their profits by cutting staff and increasing workloads for already overburdened workers. According to the industry’s own projections, hotels will be returning to record profit levels by 2012.


Union contracts covering over 1,400 workers have expired in hotels and restaurants including the Westin, Edgewater, Seattle Hilton, Washington Athletic Club, Space Needle, SeaTac Hilton, and the Doubletree.

“Hotel workers can sometimes seem invisible,” says Erik Van Rossum, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 8, the union representing the workers in the campaign. “They create luxury in Seattle’s hotels by cleaning the rooms, washing the dishes, and cooking the food, among other thankless jobs. But now they are standing up with one voice to demand respect and fairness.”

Local 15 is hoping to work with UNITE HERE Local 8 to encourage more Union AV work in the hotels represented by Local 8, including the Westin.  It’s important that we have a good showing with Local 15 signs, to let our sisters and brothers in Local 8 know that we support them! If you’re planning to go, please let BR Paul Bigman know (206-441-1515, ext. 225; so that we’ll have enough Local 15 signs.

More pickets and rallies are planned including one  on August 4 at 4:30pm in SeaTac. Stay tuned for more details

For more information, contact Jasmine Marwaha of Local 8 at 206-470-2993

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