(Secaucus)- Assemblymen Gary Schaer (D-36) organized a joint strike with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 59 to support IATSE 59’s demands for better working conditions. Senator Gordon Johnson (D-37), Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33), Bergen County Executive James Tedesco III, Bergen County Commissioner Chairman Steve Tanelli, Bergen County Commissioners Dr. Joan Voss, Mary Amoroso, Ramon Hache, Germaine Ortiz, and Thomas Sullivan, and Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton as well as New Jersey AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan joined the picket line.
Since the Meadowlands Exposition Center opened in 1992, IATSE 59 has been the only production team maintaining rope riggings and building exhibitor booths that guarantee a safe and welcoming environment for events in Northern New Jersey. Despite their proven dedication they have been forced to endure a culture of neglect from the Center’s managing company, SMG Exposition Services.
On June 30, 2021, IATSE 59’s contract expired. SMG’s proposed contract lacks adequate health benefit contributions, placing the cost and risk on individuals and families. During the 2009 Recession IATSE members agreed to a 15% percent wage cut, sharing the cost of the economic climate without the benefit of the financial recovery.
Since 2011, they have been denied meaningful wage increases, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic their wages have been frozen. As per diem employees, they have lacked needed financial stability and have been deprived of overtime pay. The proposed contract reduces their annuity from 7% to 4%, continuing the financial strain of substandard wages into retirement. We have worked to make New Jersey a competitive place to do business, we will fight to guarantee fair and equitable treatment for our working families.
“What you want is what we stand for- a fair wage, a living wage, retirement, healthcare. These benefits must be accessible to everyone in this great country of ours. Year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation, unions have and will continue to change the face of America.” (Assemblyman Schaer)