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Stagehands At Chicago's Riviera Theatre Claim They Were Fired For Trying to Organize

CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) — The Chicago chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is claiming that stagehands at The Riviera Theatre were fired in retaliation for attempting to organize.

The worker, who began organizing efforts in July 2015, wanted the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election so they could vote on whether stagehands at three JAM productions-operated venues, the Riviera Theatre, The Vic Theatre, and Park West, would be represented IATSE Local 2.

In a press release, the IATSE Local claims that JAM Productions co-owner Jerry Mickelson fired more than 30 employees at The Riviera Theatre after the workers started the push to join the stagehands union. In what the IATSE described as a "profanity-laden tirade" the stage crew was told to clear out their tools and equipment from the Riviera before the locks were changed.

A flier reportedly written one of the stagehands, Chris Phipps, and obtained by Chicago-based music journalist Jim DeRogatis, calls for a boycott of venues operated by Jam Productions.

“When Jam Productions owner Jerry Mickelson heard his stagehands wanted an election so they could vote on whether to be represented by Stagehands Local 2, he fired each and every one of us at the Riviera. It’s not his choice—it’s ours! You have a choice, too—don’t patronize the Riviera, Vic, or Park West until Jam hires us back,” the flyer said.

The IATSE says that in the wake of the firings, they have filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over what they allege were retaliatory firings. As well, they are still seeking to hold an election for stagehands at the three venues to vote on whether to be represented by the union.

At the time of publication, JAM Productions did not respond to a request for comment. – Staff Writers