When “the show must go on” at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, it’s backstage workers that make it happen. Now, those workers are making sure the show goes on for themselves.
Backstage technicians employed by ASM Global who work at the multipurpose facility in Dubuque voted unanimously to be represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE Local 191, a union which covers such workers in eastern Iowa.
The vote to unionize with IATSE was unanimous and included all full-time, regular part-time and on-call stagehands, according to the union.
It was unclear how many workers the union covered. Messages to IATSE seeking comment were not immediately returned.
IATSE represents more than 150,000 workers in the entertainment industry in the US and Canada, including those working in live events, movie and television production, broadcast and trade shows.
As of May 2022, production or behind-the-scenes workers in the US had an average hourly wage of $21.46, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But broken down by union and non-union, unionized entertainment workers made $904 per week in 2021 while non-union workers made just $818. Yearly, that means unionized entertainment workers made an average of $47,008 while their non-union counterparts made $42,536.
Yet, in 2021, just 5.5% of all workers in that industry were represented by a union, down from 7.4% as recently as 2019.
The industry also had an injury rate of 3%, including 70 deaths, in 2020—the last year for which data were available.
“Workplaces in the entertainment industry involve some of the broadest array of potential safety hazards as any profession that exists,” IATSE said in its July newsletter to members.
A message seeking comment from ASM Global, which manages 61,000 workers at more than 300 venues on five continents, was not immediately returned.
By Amie Rivers
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