March 12, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I sincerely appreciate your patience, as I have a rule in best representing you, that Local One not make a statement or provide information that is either incomplete and/or inaccurate. The Union has been gathering information and performing fact checks with regards to the last few days and the devastation inflicted on our membership and others in our theatrical community. 
The Corona Virus is obviously tragic in itself, while the precautionary measures exercised by the government and many of Local One’s employers today, will substantially harm an enormous amount of our membership’s employment and their finances. Please be assured the Union is taking all necessary steps to represent you and make our best attempts to find solutions for our many concerns with today’s developments. The Business Agents and I are in the process of meeting with all our employers who have closed their venues, as well as those who remain in operation. I will be calling for our Shop Stewards of our closed venues to meet with the Business Agents and I at the Union office. I believe my decision to cancel our March Monthly membership meeting is sensible,  and in that regard, it remains best for us to meet in smaller groups at this time.

As you know, many of the Union’s collective bargaining agreements have different provisions for conditions and protections.

The Union has met with our attorneys to address each of our 75 term contracts and their various provisions. You can expect most of our employers to resist paying any money to our members that are not contractually entitled to compensation. Be assured Local One will fight like hell to enforce our agreements on your behalf, and we will pursue even more than you are contractually entitled to. As such, the Union will soon be meeting with management of the Met Opera, and I am attending the Broadway League’s Emergency Meetings tonight and tomorrow with all the other Broadway Unions principal officers. Local One will progress with meeting our other employers as well, to seek positions and plans for the future. I assure you, the Union will provide all information as we receive it.

Treasurer McDonough and I will initiate our PAC Committee to appeal to Governor Cuomo for NY State funding to assist our members who are unemployed due to our closed venues. I offer the Governor my respect for his decision to close our venues with the best of intentions, but I believe if he can decide to close our venues, he can decide to provide financial assistance to our members severely affected by the decision.

For our Union members who remain employed in your venues, be certain the Union is in coordination with your employer to make sure they have precautionary plans and measures in place, and they are all communicating those to you. Any member who feels this is not the case, should feel free to contact me directly. Local One expects our employers to carry out their legal obligation of providing safe and sanitary protections while you perform your duties, and the Union insists that this be in excess. Note any members who prefer not to be employed at this time, but fear any retaliation for that choice, should contact me as well. Local One will provide our members the full protection of the greatest local in the land, whether for one of us or all.

At this extremely difficult time in not only our Union’s history, but our planet’s history, I respectfully request that you support each other as brother and sister members and be patient while the Union does all that it possibly can. Our families health and well-being is paramount. I sincerely understand the ramifications of no money coming into your households. Please keep that in mind as the Union does all that it possibly can to assist with creative ideas, solutions and actions in support of you and your families. 

Please standby for further announcements.

Sincerest regards,
In Solidarity, 
James J. Claffey Jr.
Local One I.A.T.S.E. 

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