Lincoln Center Workers Might Picket Fashion Week

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Photo: GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

Workers traditionally employed by Lincoln Center for events taking place there are worried about being screwed out of Fashion Week gigs they feel are rightfully theirs. Fashion Week facilities will begin construction in Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park this weekend for the spring 2011 shows. This being the first season Fashion Week will take place there, organizers are in the process of ironing out the kinks, including the dispute that's emerged between IMG (which organizes Fashion Week, Lincoln Center) and Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (the union that oversees stagehand and theatrical-labor crews who work at Lincoln Center).

The disagreement centers around who IMG should contract to work on erecting the tents and performing other labor necessary for the event. Local One has an agreement with Lincoln Center to hire its workers for events taking place inside Lincoln Center, but the contract does not cover surrounding areas or the plaza, where Damrosch Park is located. However, union president James J. Claffey Jr. says the center traditionally hires union workers for events taking place in these areas, like the annual Christmas-tree lighting. He believes IMG should heed precedent and hire union workers for all Fashion Week events.

Lincoln Center says they can't tell IMG who to hire because they're renting the space. An IMG spokesman sent The Wall Street Journal an e-mail statement:

"The various issues that exist now we are sure will find an amicable solution by September 9," Mr. Eichman said. "As we move into final preparations, our team is focused on providing the most cost efficient, effective, and user-friendly productions for our designer and sponsor clients and as such, will work diligently to make the move to Lincoln Center as smooth as possible."


The union is holding an emergency meeting this morning. Claffey called the situation "very sensitive," adding, "We're going to exercise our legal rights if they don't come to some sort of agreement with us." That could mean a picket line during the shows.

IMG signed a contract to rent Lincoln Center for five years, with events likely to spill into non-Damrosch areas of the complex at some point. So these organizations are in the process of making plans for the next five years — or ten Fashion Weeks. An amicable agreement is necessary before the shows start, because fashion people don't really want to cross angry picket lines! Those of crazy, fake-skinned-bunny-wielding, anti-fur people excepted.

Ugly Battle Brewing Over Fashion Week [WSJ]