OCCUPY KRAVIS

BREAKING NEWS
JULY 31, 2012

NLRB issues second complaint and seeks $2.6 million plus interest

from Florida performing arts center after it failed to comply with Board order



The National Labor Relations Board has issued a second complaint against the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach alleging violations of federal labor law in a dispute that dates back more than a decade.

NLRB attorneys also on Monday issued a Compliance Specification that calculates the Center owes about $2.6 million in back pay and benefit contributions, plus interest that continues to accrue, to several hundred members of the stagehands’ union who were unlawfully denied employment.

The Board ruled in 2007 that the theatrical venue violated federal labor law by failing to bargain to impasse with its union, IATSE, by unilaterally changing wages and conditions of employment, and by refusing to use the union’s hiring hall in more than 700 productions staged since charges were filed in 2001. The Board’s order was enforced by the DC Circuit Court in 2008.

The Compliance Specification (in case 06-CA-036484) calculates the amount that carpenters, electricians, and other skilled laborers would have earned had the Center used the hiring hall, as required by a collective bargaining agreement between the employer and union.

The agreement had expired and the parties were bargaining for a renewal when the Center declared negotiations had reached impasse, fired six union employees and declared it would hire a set of non-union core employees to perform work previously performed by union members.

In its 2007 decision, the Board ordered the Center to offer reinstatement to the fired workers and return to bargaining for a new contract. Negotiations did resume, but the Center again declared impasse in 2011 and imposed essentially the same conditions as it had previously.

The complaint issued this week by the NLRB Regional Office in Tampa (case 12-CA-027075) alleges that in the fall of 2010, the Center declared impasse even though it had not bargained in good faith to impasse. The complaint also alleges that the Center unlawfully fired three employees and unlawfully insisted on employing a core crew rather than filling stagehand jobs through the hiring hall.

A hearing on the complaint and the compliance specification is scheduled to be held before an NLRB administrative law judge on October 29, 2012, in West Palm Beach.

Posted: 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kravis Center owes stagehands union at least $2.6 million,

 National Labor Relations Board says

By Jane Musgrave

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

A dollar figure has finally been put on the long-running dispute between the Kravis Center and the local stagehands union: $2.6 million.

That is how much the National Labor Relations Board this week said the performing arts hall owes hundreds of stagehands for illegally denying them employment.

An attorney who represents local members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians predicted that $2.6 million is just the beginning. The Kravis Center would also be charged interest dating back to September 2000 when the NLRB and several federal judges agreed Kravis officials illegally broke off contract talks and stopped using union workers, said attorney Matthew Mierzwa.

Further, he said, the $2.6 million only covers the amount the Kravis owes through 2009. The NLRB this week also filed another complaint against the center, claiming in the fall of 2010 it again didn’t bargain in good faith, illegally ended contract negotiations and unlawfully refused to hire stagehands through the union hiring hall.

An administration judge in October is to decide whether to force the center to pay stagehands millions in back wages and whether it violated labor laws again in 2010.

Kansas City attorney Robert Janowitz, who represents the Kravis Center, couldn’t be reached for comment late Tuesday. He and Kravis Center officials have consistently denied wrongdoing.

The center has repeatedly been found in violation of national labor laws. Over the years, an administrative law judge, the NLRB and an appeals court has ruled that the theater engaged in unfair labor practices. In 2008, a federal judge in Washington ordered the board to bargain in good faith. The Kravis is one of the few major performing arts halls in the state that doesn’t use union stagehands.

“Their getting away with murder here,” Mierzwa said. If the center continues the legal fight, it could drag on for another five or 10 years, he said.

While disputed by Kravis officials, Mierzwa said the battle has cost the center millions in legal fees. “I’m dumbfound,” Mierzwa said. “This is a non-profit organization. They’re using tax-exempt money to violate federal labor laws.”

National Labor Relations Board sides with stagehands in dispute with Kravis Center

By Jan Sjostrum

Palm Beach Daily News Arts Editor
Posted: 6:25 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a second complaint against the Kravis Center in the center’s long-running dispute with the stagehands union.

The complaint issued Monday alleges that the center did not bargain in good faith when, in fall 2010, it declared an impasse in its contract negotiations with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500. The complaint also alleges that the center unlawfully fired three employees and illegally employed a core crew rather than filling stagehand jobs through the union hiring hall.

At the same time, the NLRB issued a statement saying that the Kravis owes about $2.6 million in back pay and benefit contributions, plus interest, which continues to accrue, to several hundred members of the union who were wrongfully denied employment under an earlier board ruling.

The board ruled in September 2007 that the Kravis violated federal labor law by failing to bargain to impasse with the union, unilaterally changing wages and conditions of employment, and refusing to use the union’s hiring hall in more that 700 productions staged in Dreyfoos Hall since the union filed charges in 2001.

The board’s ruling was enforced in December 2008 by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A hearing on the second complaint and the back pay and benefits award is scheduled to be held before an NLRB administrative law judge Oct. 29 in West Palm Beach.

BREAKING NEWS
MAY 2012

For PDF version of President Loeb's letter, click here
For background information on the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees:
www.iatse-intl.org

Union claims Kravis board reneged on labor dispute agreement

By Jane Musgrave

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

— The Kravis Center has reneged on an agreement that would end a long-running labor dispute that could cost the theater millions, members of the stagehands union said Wednesday.

Calling the center's refusal to approve the contract that was hashed out in January "bizarre," the international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees this month wrote Kravis board members, urging them to honor the agreement.

"I appeal to you, the members of the Board, to honor the agreement, end the dispute, and go into the future in a spirit of mutual understanding and respect," wrote New York City-based union president Matthew Loeb. "In this way, your resources and the donations of your supporters will be used to accomplish the mission of The Kravis Center, instead of being spent on continuing costly litigation."

The failure of the board to approve the negotiated contract has already spurred the union to file yet another charge against the center with the National Labor Relations Board.

Loeb estimated the center owes union members $4 million to $5 million in damages. Local union officials estimate the center has spent another $1 million on legal fees, a claim Kravis officials have disputed.

Attorney Robert Janowitz, who represents the theater, said the union's claims are unfounded. Any agreement that was reached during a 15-hour negotiating session in January was tentative. "It was understood that final approval rested with the board of directors," he said.

Neither he nor union officials would reveal the terms of the tentative accord. The settlement talks were confidential, Janowitz said.

The labor dispute began in 2000 when the Kravis fired six full-time union workers and broke off contract negotiations. An administrative law judge, the NLRB and an appeals court ruled that the theater engaged in unfair labor practices. In 2008, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the board to bargain in good faith.

Union members were hopeful that had happened during the marathon negotiating session, said Alan Glassman, business manager for the local union. Kravis CEO Judith Mitchell told union officials she had the power to negotiate an agreement to end the dispute, Loeb said in his letter. Surprisingly, he said, board members rejected the deal.

The union has conducted informational pickets several times during the last two years. The Kravis was forced to cancel a performance in 2008 when a national company refused to cross a picket line.

"I imagine it's going to get ugly," Glassman said. "I'd like it to be finished but they don't seem to want to follow the law."

KRAVIS CENTER FOUND GUILTY ONCE AGAIN
NOVEMBER 23, 2011

KRAVIS CENTER VIOLATES U.S. LABOR LAWS

11 YEARS AND COUNTING

KRAVIS CENTER RELENTLESS

LAWYERS' FEES MOUNT

 IN UNION BUSTING ACTION

          KRAVIS CENTER WILL BE PROSECUTED

ONCE AGAIN

SECOND NLRB INVESTIGATION YIELDS SAME LEGAL FINDING:

                                                 

                                                                             

PRESS RELEASE:

NOVEMBER 23, 2011

 

                 NEW CHARGES, INVESTIGATION, FINDINGS, AND CONCLUSIONS:

                KRAVIS CENTER HAS NEVER STOPPED VIOLATING FEDERAL LAW

 

After an 8-month investigation, an attorney for the federal government has advised IATSE that the Kravis Center has not complied with the order of the federal court issued in December 2008 and has committed additional violations of federal labor law after returning to bargain by order of the federal appellate court.

 

Background:  In September 2000 and continuing through January 2009, the Kravis Center committed massive unfair labor practices in violation of federal labor law.  The unfair labor practices included the unlawful declaration of impasse; the unlawful implementation of changes to a contract including the refusal to use the hiring hall; and the unlawful discharge of department of heads.

 

After charges were filed, the Kravis Center lost every single charge considered during an investigation (2001), before a federal administrative law judge (2002), before the Bush-appointed NLRB (2007), and in federal appellate court (2008).

 

In January 2009, under court order and possible action for contempt of court, the Kravis Center announced it would comply with the court order, bargain in good faith, and utilize the hiring hall on an exclusive basis.  At the very first bargaining session, the Kravis Center stated that it would never agree to an exclusive hiring hall and then refused to use the hiring hall to employ department heads.

 

After bargaining in bad faith from January 2009 through January 2011, the Kravis Center

 

  • unlawfully declared impasse in negotiations

 

  • unlawfully implemented changes to wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment including the refusal to use the hiring hall on an exclusive basis

 

  • unlawfully insisted to impasse that the agreement would have two sets of wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment -- one set applicable to workers referred from the hiring hall and the other set applicable to workers not referred from the hiring hall

 

  • unlawfully discharged department heads referred from the hiring hall, while retaining department heads not referred from the hiring hall

 

Unfortunately, IATSE was forced again to file unfair labor practice charges against the Kravis Center.  After an 8-month investigation, attorneys for Region 12 of the NLRB have concluded that the Kravis Center is not in compliance with the court order from 2008 and committed new unfair labor practices.  A new complaint and prosecution of the Kravis Center will be forthcoming.

 

                       THE RAYMOND F. KRAVIS CENTER: MORE THAN 11 YEARS

                         OF CONTINUOUS VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL LABOR LAW

 

This is a short video of State Representative Mark Pafford sharing his convictions with some constituents. I make it clear why people should not shop at Walmart and why no one should go to the Kravis Center for a show or a meeting.
KRAVIS CENTER PICKET APRIL 4, 2011
cache/wst.opf.1726845.xml
cache/wst.opf.1726813.xml

 "MEDIA" HISTORY
2007 TO PRESENT



STAGEHANDS UNION IRKED OVER NEW KRAVIS APPEAL

Palm Beach Post / Oct 17, 2007

by Jane Musgrave


After a seven-year legal battle, members of a local stagehands union were ready to celebrate that they would finally be getting their jobs back at the Kravis Center and could begin pursuing as much as $2 million in back pay.

Then, word came this week that the performing arts hall plans to appeal yet another legal ruling that it violated federal labor laws in September 2000 when it unilaterally ended its contract with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts.

"As far as I'm concerned, what they're doing is disgusting," said Alan Glassman, business agent for Local 500 that has roughly 500 members from Vero Beach to Key West.

Lake Worth attorney Matthew Mierzwa, who represented the union before the National Labor Relations Board and an administrative law judge, agreed.

"It's the most repulsive act of unfair labor practices against a union that I've ever seen and I've been practicing for 20 years," he said.

Kravis Center Chief Executive Judith Mitchell declined comment, referring questions to the center's Kansas City, Mo., attorney, Robert Janowitz. He didn't return a phone call for comment.

But in the past, Mitchell has expressed little support for the union's position.


ANTI-UNION KRAVIS CENTER HARD ON LOCAL THEATER PROS

October 23, 2007 Letters to the Editor

Palm Beach Post


The stagehand local union won yet another National Labor Relations Board decision in its labor dispute with the Kravis Center.

Once again, the NLRB ruled that the Kravis Center illegally locked the stagehands out, and ordered the center to reinstate them and return to them back pay. Once again, the Kravis Center says it will appeal.

From the beginning, the Kravis Center's negotiating team of CEO Judith Mitchell, her husband, Jim, and attorney Jeff Pheterson were hostile to the union. By their own admission, in court documents, they said that their "plans did not include the union." Local men and women, with a passion for theater work are being denied the right to perform their craft, simply because they choose to be represented by a labor union.

Many of our members who reside in West Palm Beach are now forced to travel to Fort Lauderdale or Miami to work their trade in labor- friendly venues such as the Broward Center or the Carnival Center, where there is a harmonious labor-management relationship in place.

The article by Jane Musgrave, "Stagehands union irked over new Kravis appeal," Oct. 17, reported that Ms. Mitchell expressed her feeling that "the union should admit it lost" after invoking the name of George W. Bush. Yet even a court dominated by Bush appointees found that the Kravis Center had acted in "bad faith," and ordered the Kravis Center to reinstate the stagehands who were illegally fired.

The Kravis Center has, instead, retained the services of a law firm from Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in "union-busting." I'll bet it doesn't work cheap. So, how does the Kravis Center square this with the local community of retired and probably former union workers? How will they explain to existing or potential donors that 20 cents or so of every dollar donated will go not to promote the arts but to bust a union of dedicated professionals who do not fit into the plans of Judith Mitchell anymore?

How long will the Kravis Center board of directors let this go on?

TERRENCE M. McKENZIE

West Palm Beach

Kravis, stagehands' union find 'solution,' not agreement

Palm Beach Daily News Arts Editor

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ticket holders for the Kravis Center's Broadway series can rest assured that the shows won't be scuttled by labor strife between the venue and the local stagehands union.

The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts has forged a partnership with On Cue Entertainment that calls for On Cue to hire the union workers rather than the Kravis, which is embroiled in an 8-year-old dispute with the union.

"We're still not working for the Kravis Center," said Alan Glassman, business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Craft Local 500.

"If this had not been done, we would not walk through the door."

In May, Local 500 members picketed a touring production of Riverdance.

The Kravis canceled the opening night performance when Riverdance's union workers declined to cross the picket line.

Performances resumed the following day after the tour producer took over presenting the show and hired local union workers.

"We had to find some sort of solution to presenting, and this seemed to satisfy everybody," Kravis spokesman Brian Bixler said.

The union targeted only the center's Broadway series for its protests because other shows generally don't use union workers, Glassman said.

"They would probably just cross the picket lines," he said.

On Cue was formed four months ago by John Poland, former vice president of the southeast region of Clear Channel Entertainment's theatrical division, which used to present the Broadway series at the Kravis.

This season, the Kravis began presenting its own five-show series, which opens Nov. 25 with Avenue Q.

"I have a long relationship with the union locals here," Poland said.

"I have negotiated agreements with them several times over the years."

The Kravis has contracted with On Cue for the five-show season.

In addition to hiring the stagehands, On Cue advises the Kravis on other aspects of its Broadway series, Poland said.

Thus far, the Kravis is the company's only client, and the Broadway shows its only project, he said.

The union dispute affects only Kravis presentations. Renters with union contracts - such as Ballet Florida and Palm Beach Opera - are not affected.

The union claims the Kravis violated labor laws when it declared an impasse in its negotiations with the union in September 2000 and replaced union workers with non-union employees.

The union wants the Kravis to negotiate a contract, use its hiring hall, rehire six full-time workers and pay damages.

The Kravis claims it doesn't have to negotiate with the union because its workers never voted to be represented by the union.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in the union's favor in October 2007, and the Kravis appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A decision is expected within the next four months.

The Kravis would be liable for millions of dollars in back wages and benefits if it loses the legal battle, said Matt Mierzwa, the union's attorney.

KRAVIS LOSES LAWSUIT TO UNION STAGEHANDS

Palm Beach Post

December 31, 2008



In a ruling that could put millions into the pockets of hundreds of stagehands who lost their jobs at the Kravis Center eight years ago, an appeals court on Tuesday found that the performing arts hall engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to reinstate union workers.

"They lost every single point," said Alan Glassman, business manager for the local stagehands union. "As far as we're concerned, it's over. It would be smart for them to say they lost and start negotiating with us. But with them you never know. They've thrown so much money at this."

Neither Kravis Center Executive Director Judith Mitchell nor the Kansas City attorney who represented the center in its estimated $1 million legal fight returned phone calls for comment.

Attorney Matthew Mierzwa, who represents the union, said the Kravis could ask the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington to reconsider its decision. Or, he said, it could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, he said, either action would be a waste of time and money.

"I would guess there is no chance to get this overturned," he said. "The chance of the appeals court changing its mind or the Supreme Court taking jurisdiction is impossible."

The Kravis Center failed to convince a Miami administrative law judge or the National Labor Relations Board that it was justified when it walked away from contract negotiations in 2000. It fired six full-time workers who were members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts. It stopped using union workers on shows as it had since the center opened in 1992.

The center's action was blasted by the judge and, on appeal, by the NLRB.

Court backs stagehands vs. Kravis

Center may owe up to $6 million to fired workers

January 04, 2009 by Jane Musgrave The Palm Beach Post

In a ruling that could put millions into the pockets of hundreds of stagehands who lost their jobs at the Kravis Center eight years ago, an appeals court last week found that the performing arts hall engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to reinstate union workers.

"They lost every single point," said Alan Glassman, business manager for the local stagehands union. "As far as we're concerned, it's over. It would be smart for them to say they lost and start negotiating with us. But with them you never know. They've thrown so much money at this."

Neither Kravis Center Executive Director Judith Mitchell nor the Kansas City attorney who represented the center in its estimated $1 million legal fight was available to comment.

Attorney Matthew Mierzwa, who represents the union, said Kravis officials could ask the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington to reconsider its decision, announced Tuesday. Or, he said, they could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, he said, either action would be a waste of time and money.

"I would guess there is no chance to get this overturned," he said. "The chance of the appeals court changing its mind or the Supreme Court taking jurisdiction is impossible."

The Kravis Center failed to convince a Miami administrative law judge or the National Labor Relations Board that it was justified when it walked away from contract negotiations in 2000. It fired six full-time workers who were members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts. It stopped using union workers on shows as it had since the center opened in 1992.

The center's action was blasted by the judge and, on appeal, by the NLRB.

"I have concluded that the [Kravis] bargained in bad faith," Judge Raymond Green wrote in a 2002 decision. "In fact, it is clear to me that the intention of the [Kravis] was to essentially eliminate the union's role as a bargaining representative and to reduce its role to being simply another labor contractor which [it] could use at its whim."

Unless the Kravis Center appeals Tuesday's ruling, it must immediately reinstate the six fired workers and begin using union help on its shows.

The appeals court also ordered it to compensate workers for money they lost during the appeal.

Exactly how much the Kravis Center could be forced to pay is unknown, Mierzwa said. By some calculations, he said, it could reach $6 million, though the total could be in litigation for years. Legal fees are already estimated at $1 million.

Some stagehands have estimated the lockout has cost them $20,000 to $30,000 annually. Instead of being able to work close to home, those who live in Palm Beach County have traveled to the Broward County Performing Arts Center or Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to work in their crafts. Like most other major halls in the state, those centers have union contracts.

In fact, union help is so common in the theatrical world that the Kravis Center was forced to cancel a performance in the spring. Union workers who brought the Irish show Riverdance to the Kravis in May refused to cross picket lines. The rest of the five-day run was saved when the owner of Riverdance canceled its contract with the Kravis and agreed to put on the show using union help.

COURTHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Monday, January 5, 2009

 (CN) - The D.C. Circuit upheld an order requiring the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts to recognize and bargain with a stagehands union's successor.
     The center agreed to use only employees referred by Local 623 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts to perform all stagehand work at its Dreyfoos Hall in West Palm Beach, Fla.
     After the bargaining agreements expired in 2000, Kravis declared an impasse, withdrew recognition from the union and request no further referrals.
     The National Labor Relations Board determined that Kravis had violated the National Labor Relations Act by, among other things, "unilaterally changing the scope of the bargaining unit and withdrawing recognition from Local 623."
     The board ordered Kravis to recognize Local 500, the union's successor by merger.
     Kravis argued, unsuccessfully, that Local 623 was not a union because it did not exclusively represent Dreyfoos Hall stagehands.
     Judge Kavanaugh also rejected Kravis' claim that the union never had the majority support needed for continued bargaining after the agreements expired.
     That argument is time-barred, Kavanaugh ruled, because Kravis did not raise the claim within six months of initial negotiations.
     The court ordered Kravis to recognize Local 500 as Local 623's successor.
Kravis Center, stagehands union to negotiate, board decides


Palm Beach Daily News Arts Editor

Friday, January 09, 2009

Representatives of the Kravis Center and the local stagehands' union said they hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement now that the center has decided to end its long-standing dispute with the union.

"It's taken a lot out of everybody," said Alan Glassman, business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500. "I'm sure everyone is relieved. I hope we can sit down and get this done quickly, amicably and fairly, and that we can get everyone back to work doing what they're supposed to do."

Robert Janowitz, the Kravis' attorney, said the center would like to negotiate all the outstanding issues at once.

"I hope we can reach an agreement beneficial to both parties," he said.

Talks could begin this month, said Matthew Mierzwa, the union's attorney.

The Kravis board's executive committee voted Tuesday to negotiate with the union after a federal appeals court ruled against the center Dec. 30.

The dispute dates to September 2000, when the Kravis declared an impasse in its negotiations with the union and stopped hiring its workers.

The Kravis replaced the union workers with its own employees and hires nonunion labor from outside contractors when needed.

The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in March 2001. A federal administrative law judge issued a mixed ruling in 2002.

In October 2007, the NLRB ruled in favor of the union, and the Kravis appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The union wants the Kravis to negotiate a contract, start using the union hiring hall, rehire six department heads and pay damages for lost income.

The union says damages for an estimated 150 workers could run into millions of dollars. The center and the union will work with the NLRB in determining the amount, Janowitz said.

The dispute affects only Kravis Center productions in Dreyfoos Hall. Union members continue to work at the Kravis — but only for groups renting the facility, such as Palm Beach Opera and Ballet Florida.

Union steward Jim Cantwell estimates he's lost $15,000 to $20,000 a year by not working on Kravis productions.

"This should have been taken care of long ago," he said. "Way too much money has been spent on it. It's a waste of money."

Russ Barron was head electrician for Dreyfoos Hall productions at the time the Kravis and the union fell out. He's one of the department heads the union wants the center to rehire.

"It didn't have to end up like this," he said. "There were legitimate concerns on both sides. It didn't have to get as acrimonious as it did."

The long dispute has eroded trust between the parties.

"I hope, I just hope they really want to negotiate an agreement," Mierzwa said.


TALKS AHEAD FOR KRAVIS, UNION OVER LABOR ISSUES

by JAN SJOSTROM

Palm Beach Daily News

January 10, 2009


Representatives of the Kravis Center and the local stagehands' union said they hope to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement now that the center has decided to end its long-standing dispute with the union.

"It's taken a lot out of everybody," said Alan Glassman, business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500. "I'm sure everyone is relieved. I hope we can sit down and get this done quickly, amicably and fairly, and that we can get everyone back to work doing what they're supposed to do."

Robert Janowitz, the Kravis' attorney, said the center would like to negotiate all the outstanding issues at once.

"I hope we can reach an agreement beneficial to both parties," he said.

Talks could begin this month, said Matthew Mierzwa, the union's attorney.

The Kravis board's executive committee voted Tuesday to negotiate with the union after a federal appeals court ruled against the center Dec. 30.

The dispute dates to September 2000, when the Kravis declared an impasse in its negotiations with the union and stopped hiring its workers.

The Kravis replaced the union workers with its own employees and hires nonunion labor from outside contractors when needed.

The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in March 2001. A federal administrative law judge issued a mixed ruling in 2002.


Crist, Meek cancellations at Forum Club leave political reporters to fill void

By Michele Dargan

Palm Beach Daily News Staff Writer

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010

The clear winner of Wednesday’s boycott of the Kravis Center by two U.S. Senate candidates was the stagehands’ union that picketed the facility.

So says political reporter/analyst Brian Crowley who stepped in late Tuesday, speaking to 700 people who attended the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches luncheon expecting to hear the candidates. WPTV-Channel 5 news reporter Jon Shainman was recruited to join Crowley on the podium, after showing up to cover the event. Both appear on the NBC local political program To The Point.

Gov. Charlie Crist, Republican-turned-Independent, and his Democratic opponent U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek canceled their appearances Tuesday night.

Crist canceled first, after learning Tuesday night of the ongoing labor dispute and the planned picketing by the union. Endorsed by the union, Meek had known of the dispute earlier this month and had twice requested a change of venue. He was planning to speak to the group, until he heard Crist had canceled.

Republican candidate Marco Rubio had not planned to attend because of a prior scheduling conflict.

“The stagehands’ union has won today and they did the kinds of things we expect in politics. They saw a political opportunity and they took advantage of it,” Crowley said. “Now, the dispute has been 10 years ... but they saw an opportunity to get additional press for their problem. They saw an opportunity to embarrass Gov. Crist and Kendrick Meek by putting them in this position and it worked ... Sorry you guys got stuck with me, but on a political scale, this is a home run for those guys. Whether or not it solves anything with the Kravis Center, I have no idea. But for today, it brought a lot of attention to them.”

Forum Club Executive Director Gayle Pallesen said she heard, from a Palm Beach Daily News reporter, at 5 p.m. Tuesday that Crist wasn’t going to appear. After a confirmation from Crist’s campaign, Pallesen then called Meek’s campaign, asking if Meek wanted the entire program to speak.

“They were actually considering accepting the whole program,” Pallesen said. “Roughly 7:30 p.m., they called and said they decided not to do it because ‘of the workers’ rights.’ I said, ‘What changed about the workers’ rights from this morning when you were planning on coming to tonight at 7:30 — and I didn’t get an answer.”

Pallesen said Meek did make two requests for a change of venue prior to the meeting.

“He was told absolutely no, we’re a non-partisan organization and we don’t take stands on any issues,” Pallesen said. “The contract had been signed, the newsletter was out and tickets were sold. There would be no change of venue. He did not say, at that time, he was pulling out.”

Meek arrived outside the Kravis Center at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, shaking hands and greeting the picketers on Okeechobee Boulevard. He spoke briefly there, saying he’s standing with the “working men and women ... when people need you the most.”

Meek said he notified the Forum Club several weeks in advance, noting his displeasure with the venue. Meek said he had planned to meet with the picketers outside and then go inside to speak about the workers’ problems with the Kravis Center. But when Crist canceled, Meek said there was “no need” for him to go inside to speak.

“It’s very unfortunate that the Forum Club did not cancel at this center and move this to another location,” Meek said.


Stagehands union picket fallout: Forum Club to change venue temporarily

ByMichele Dargan

Palm Beach Daily News Staff Writer

Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010


The Forum Club of the Palm Beaches will change its venue temporarily in reaction to the stagehands’ union picketing the Kravis Center Wednesday, the club’s executive director said.

The nonpartisan club will hold its talks at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott is expected to speak Oct. 7, and Democratic gubernatorial contender Alex Sink is the scheduled guest Oct. 15. Sink has said she won’t cross a picket line.

“We are not moving out of respect to the union,” executive director Gayle Pallesen said. “We are moving out of respect to the club members ... so that the disruptions that occurred Wednesday don’t occur again. We can’t afford to have another speaker pull out the night before.”

Two candidates for U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist, Republican-turned-Independent, and his Democratic opponent U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, canceled their Wednesday appearances at the club on Tuesday night.

Crist canceled first, after hearing The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500 would be picketing outside. Meek knew of the protest ahead of time, and had planned to meet with the picketers outside and then go inside and speak.

But when he heard Crist was canceling, Meek — who is endorsed by the union — bowed out, too.

The Kravis and the union have been wrangling since September 2000, when the center declared an impasse in its negotiations with the union and stopped hiring workers through the union. The Kravis has accepted a federal appeals court ruling siding with the union. But there are still outstanding issues, including lack of a contract and the amount of lost wages and damages, which could be in the millions.

End self-destructive drama:

 It makes the Kravis, a world-class facility, look cheap.

By The Palm Beach Post                                                                                                                                       Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010



The Kravis Center is expected to make its final contract offer to the local stagehands union within days. The union expects to reject the offer, which would set the stage for another bad scene in a decade-long drama that should have ended years ago.

The most recent acts cost the Kravis the business of the Forum Club, which moved its luncheon last week featuring Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott and a similar event planned for today with Democratic candidate Alex Sink to the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The Forum Club wanted to avoid a repeat performance of what happened last month when U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, and Gov. Crist, who are running for the U.S. Senate, canceled appearances at the last minute to avoid crossing a picket line of union demonstrators.

Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts are upset that the Kravis Center continues to negotiate in bad faith even after an administrative law judge, the National Labor Relations Board and an appeals court ruled that the theater engaged in unfair labor practices when it walked away from contract negotiations in 2000 and fired six full-time workers.

Robert Janowitz, who represents the Kravis, said the theater is willing to enter a contract with, and hire union members for shows if the union also represents Kravis' full-time crew members. "We want," said Mr. Janowitz, "to have much more flexibility in when we use the hiring hall."

That dispute, however, is what started the drama in the first place. Kravis hired its own crew after firing union members and stopped using the union hiring hall for shows, which the center had done since opening in 1992. Judge Raymond Green wrote in a 2002 decision against the theater that the intention of the Kravis "was to essentially eliminate the union's role as a bargaining representative and to reduce its role to being simply another labor contractor which (it) could use at its whim."

Alan Glassman, business manager for the stagehands union, said that remains the union's intent. He said the Kravis wants only limited representation for its employees, who would receive benefits to which union members aren't entitled. "We feel that's discrimination," he said. "They want to be able to use us when they want to and they won't hire us."

He said if the Kravis' offer is as expected, the union will file another complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, and the process will start all over again. "I hope," said Mr. Glassman, "it doesn't take another 10 years." Indeed. A new round of litigation would be an encore undeserving of applause. This battle against the union has made a world-class theater look second-class. Kravis officials should make an offer that will keep union members off the picket line and events in its theater.

- Rhonda Swan,

for The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board


Kravis Center’s ‘time for reconciliation’ letter riles labor union for stagehands

By Jan Sjostrom

Palm Beach Daily News Arts Editor

Posted: 5:32 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011


The Kravis Center says its recent ads in local newspapers are intended as an olive branch in a decade-long dispute with the local stagehands union.

“It’s time for reconciliation, not retribution,” the ad says in a letter from Kravis board chairman William Meyer.

The union isn’t appeased by the letter. “The thing is full of falsehoods,” said Alan Glassman, business agent for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500. The union plans to respond with its own ad.

A federal appeals court in December 2008 upheld two lower court rulings that the center had engaged in unfair labor practices when it ejected the union in September 2000.

Since then, the parties have been unable to agree on a contract. The union rejected last fall the Kravis’ final offer, which the center says provides significant increases in wages and benefits.

The major obstacle to a settlement is the fate of 10 Kravis employees who the union says illegally replaced its workers.

“The problem is they don’t want to represent our 10 stagehands who have been with us a long time,” Chief Executive Officer Judith Mitchell said. “They want us to dismiss them.”

But if the Kravis retains those employees, there will be little work left over for anyone else, union representatives said. The dispute pertains only to Kravis presentations in Dreyfoos Hall.

“It’s my understanding that we would almost never get called,” said Matthew Mierzwa, the union’s attorney.

Kravis Center union drama heats up after newspaper ad angers stagehands

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer  By Jane Musgrave

Posted: 5:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2011



— A long-running dispute between the Kravis Center and the stagehands union is back on center stage.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians blasted the performing arts hall Monday, claiming it is misrepresenting the contract dispute that began in 2000. The union was responding to a half-page ad the Kravis took out last week in The Palm Beach Post. In it, the center criticized the union for dragging out the dispute and not protecting 10 "longtime Kravis Center employees (who) are family wage-earners."

Center CEO Judith Mitchell said the Kravis crafted the open letter to "residents of Palm Beach County" to articulate its position and resolve the dispute. She touted the 11 percent wage increase and lucrative benefits package the Kravis is offering.

However, union business manager Alan Glassman said the dispute was never about money. The union, which represents about 1,000 union and non-union stagehands, wants the exclusive rights to work shows in the main auditorium.

"They can offer us $100 an hour but if we're not working what difference does it make?" he said.

Further, he said, the union has agreed to represent the 10 "loyal" Kravis workers mentioned in the ad. However, he said, they will join other stagehands on a list of those available for work.

Mitchell insisted there is plenty of work for everyone. The 10 workers are needed for events in the center's smaller auditoriums that aren't covered by the union contract.

She said the union's rejection of the center's latest offer was "more about retribution than moving the relationship forward."

The dispute began in 2000 when the Kravis fired six full-time union workers and broke off contract negotiations. Federal courts have repeatedly upheld the union, saying the center engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to rehire the full-time workers and negotiate in good faith.

PALM BEACH POST
Letters to the Editor for Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011


Kravis Center 'letter' tries to spin labor law violations

Since 2001, when the Kravis Center was initially found guilty of numerous labor law violations, the center has stonewalled the local union and the media on questions of its refusal to comply with the law. Now, in 2011, Kravis Chairman William A. Meyer breaks the 10-year silence with a costly advertisement in The Palm Beach Post and other local media in the form of an open letter, "To the Residents of Palm Beach County," that can only be described as revisionist history.

Mr. Meyer bemoans the length of time this ordeal has gone on in the court system, but fails to point out that the center twice appealed the ruling against it, to the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, to no avail. The fact that the center was assessed damages, estimated to be in the millions of dollars, for illegal conduct never was mentioned.

Mr. Meyer talks about a "vast majority of disputed items" that have been resolved in favor of the stagehands unions. Is Mr. Meyer suggesting that it was the Kravis Center's willingness to compromise? These resolutions came in the form of a court order.

Mr. Meyer states his disappointment that the union rejected the center's final proposal, that this is about "the right and humane thing." The right and humane thing to do would be to reinstate these illegally fired wage-earners, enter into a contract, comply with the court order and stop this epic saga and false advertising.

TERRENCE McKENZIE

West Palm Beach

Stagehands take protest to Kravis

Palm Beach Daily News

February 8, 2011



The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500 protested Tuesday at the Kravis Center. The union and the Kravis have been unable to agree on a contract since 2000. The fate of 10 Kravis employees who the union says illegally replaced its workers is a stumbling block. Federal courts have ordered the Kravis to negotiate with the union and rehire the fired workers. The dispute pertains only to Kravis presentations in Dreyfoos Hall.
SOUTH FLORIDA THEATRE SCENE

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



KRAVIS MANAGEMENT JUST PLAIN WRONG

A decade ago, Kravis Center broke its contract with the stagehands' union, IATSE. The union took the Kravis Center to court, and the court agreed that Kravis Center engaged in unfair labor practices, and ordered management to negotiate with the union and re-instate the workers they illegally fired.

And they still haven't done it.  The Center wants to keep the 10 people they illegally hired to replace the union crew they ejected, and the Union rightfully points out that they can't have the jobs that already belong to someone else.  So IATSE is going to start picketing, according to The Palm Beach Daily News.

The Kravis Center is wrong on this issue; they've been wrong since the first day they ejected the union, and wrong every day since the court ordered them to clean up their act. 

Kravis CEO Judith Mitchell argues that since most shows in the center require more than 10 stagehands, the center should be allowed to keep the ten stagehands because there will be "plenty of work."  But the bottom line is that the Kravis Center did not have the right to offer the 10 workers the jobs in the manner they did; these ten employees are holding someone else's job. It's a stinking mess, but we have to remember that it is Kravis Center management who created the mess, and have been aggressively maintaining the mess.

Two other important facts to be aware of: the Union is not shutting anything down: they will be working shows during the pickets.  And this concerns the Dreyfoos Hall; the Rinker Playhouse, home to Florida Stage, is not an issue in this contract dispute.  The union is not making a single unreasonable request; they are simply demanding that the Kravis Center honor the terms of the contract, as dictated by law.  Something the Kravis Center seems unwilling to do.

Kravis Center could owe workers $3.5 million

By Jane Musgrave

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Saturday, March 12, 2011


— As part of a continuing battle, the stagehands union put out a news release Friday, claiming the Kravis Center owes workers $3.5 million for a labor dispute that has dragged on for more than 10 years.

Kravis Center officials immediately disputed the amount, saying it is only preliminary. The news release is simply another attempt by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians to distort the facts, said Judy Mitchell, CEO of the center.

"There's no way it's $3.5 million," she said. "The union press release is erroneous. "

The National Labor Relations Board recently alerted both sides that the center could owe workers $3.5 million. But, Mitchell said, it is merely a base amount. To reach a final number, the NLRB must calculate and deduct how much stagehands earned at other jobs during the nearly 11-year fight.

"It's a tedious process," she said of the calculations.

Alan Glassman, business manager for the union, agreed it was a preliminary number. But, he said, he doubted it would drop significantly. Instead, he said, he expected it to increase - possibly by $1 million - when interest payments are calculated in full.

The union and the center have been at odds since center officials in 2000 broke off contract talks and stopped using union stagehands. Various judges, including a federal appeals court, found that the center engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to return to the bargaining table.

After more than a year of negotiations, contract talks broke down in January. The Kravis Center declared an impasse.

Mitchell said the center is now using union stagehands and paying them under the contract terms the union rejected. Workers got an 11 percent pay hike and their benefit package was sweetened as well, she said.

Since impasse was declared, the union has conducted several informational pickets outside the center. The dispute was never about money, Glassman said. The union wants the exclusive right to work shows. Without exclusivity, the Kravis will push union stagehands out again, he said.


Local 500 charges Kravis with unfair labor practices in filing with National Labor Relations Board

By Jan Sjostrom

Palm Beach Daily News Arts Editor

Posted: 7:59 p.m. Thursday, April 14, 2011


The local stagehands union has opened another front in its decade-long battle with the Kravis Center.

Last month, the union filed a second unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the center acted illegally when it imposed its final offer on Jan. 17.

After two years of negotiations, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 500 and the center have failed to come to an agreement. Talks began around December 2008, when a federal appeals court ruled that the center violated the law when it ejected the union in September 2000.

Negotiations stalled in January when the center imposed its final offer.

“We believe that the Kravis is doing the same thing they did before under a different guise,” said Matt Mierzwa, the union’s attorney.

The Kravis will cooperate with the board’s investigation, but “we believe the union’s allegations will be found to be without merit,” said Robert Janowitz, the center’s attorney.

The central point separating the sides is the union’s insistence that the Kravis employ only workers referred from its hiring hall for shows the center presents in Dreyfoos Hall.

The union objects to the Kravis’ use of 10-14 employees to work shows in Dreyfoos Hall, the only one of the center’s four theaters under union jurisdiction. The center wants to be able to deploy its stagehands at its discretion throughout its several theaters. “It’s a more efficient and cost-effective way to get our backstage work performed,” Janowitz said.

But under the center’s offer “the Kravis could exercise their discretion not to call the union hall at all, which is what they did for eight-and-a-half years,” Mierzwa said.

Untrue, Janowitz said. The offer stipulates that supplemental workers will come from the union hiring hall, if they’re qualified, he said.

“We’ve called the hiring hall for every Kravis presentation in Dreyfoos Hall we’ve had since we implemented our final offer,” Kravis Chief Executive Officer Judith Mitchell said.

The center’s offer also includes an 11 percent hike in hourly pay above what the union was asking for most workers and a 83 percent boost in Kravis contributions to the union’s pension and health insurance funds, she said. The center pays hiring hall-referred stagehands $24 to $28 an hour.

Other points in dispute include whether the center illegally stopped employing union-referred department heads and violated the law by applying different wage, benefit and other terms for its own employees and those referred from the hiring hall.

There’s no end in sight to the first case, which the union filed with the National Labor Relations board in March 2001.

The union and the center have locked horns about back pay. The Kravis maintains that wages union workers earned at other venues while they were shut out of the center should be deducted from the nearly $3.6 million in gross back pay the board calculated it owes union workers. The union counters those earnings shouldn’t be deducted because the Kravis’ actions resulted in less work for union workers.

The board hasn’t finished the arduous task of computing the amount workers earned at other venues, much less decided which side is correct, said Mark Wirich, interim assistant regional director of the National Labor Relations board in Pittsburgh. “At this point, we’re not even close to getting any kind of settlement,” he said.

As for the second set of charges, “it’s currently under investigation,” said Karen Lamartin, assistant to the National Labor Relations Board regional director in Tampa. The board is likely to decide whether the case has merit by early May, she said.

MOTION PICTURES EDITORS GUILD

IATSE Members’ 10-Year Struggle Shows Need for Labor Law Reform

06/12/2011

Here’s a classic example of the need for national labor law reform. For 10 years, the members of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 500 have been trying to bargain a contract with the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. 

The stagehands picked up strong support for members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 728, who joined them recently on the picket line.

In March, Local 500 filed its second unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging that management of the privately owned center illegally imposed its final offer on January. 17, after two years of negotiations failed to produce an agreement.

The latest round of talks began in December 2008, after a federal appeals court ruled that the center violated the law when it ejected the union and fired union workers in 2000. Local 500 had represented workers at the center since 1992.  The NLRB estimates that Kravis owes $3.6 million in back pay to those workers.  

“We believe that the Kravis is doing the same thing they did before under a different guise,” Matt Mierzwa, the union’s attorney, told the Palm Beach Daily News.

In 2001, after a lengthy investigation, attorneys for the regional director of the NLRB concluded that Kravis had committed “massive and continuous violations” of federal labor law when it unilaterally withdrew recognition of the union, refused to negotiate, discharged union-represented department heads and other major violations.

Kravis appealed the decision to the Bush–era NLRB, which took  five years to rule that Kravis was in continuous and uninterrupted violation of federal labor laws. The Kravis Center then stalled justice again by appealing the NLRB decision to the U.S.  Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In December 2008, the appeals court ruled against Kravis on every issue.

Under threat of civil contempt charges, Kravis resumed talks and reinstated the fired department heads. But on Jan. 17 this year, the Kravis Center declared an  impasse and imposed its final offer and illegally fired all the department heads again.



Congressmen ask U.S. labor secretary to compel Kravis Center to settle with union

by George Bennett

Palm Beach Post

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


— U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, have asked U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to get involved in the long-running dispute between the Kravis Center and a stagehands union.

The West Palm Beach performing arts venue and the International Alliance of the Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians and Allied Crafts have been at odds since 2000, when center officials broke off contract talks and stopped using union stagehands.

A federal appeals court in 2008 upheld two lower court rulings that the center had engaged in unfair labor practices and ordered it to return to the bargaining table. Talks broke down in January.

"As this conflict dates back over a decade, we therefore request that you please take a stand to compel the Kravis Center to change their course of conduct once and for all," Hastings and Deutch said in a letter to Solis dated Wednesday.

Kravis Center officials didn't immediately respond.

Union members have not gone on strike, but have conducted "informational pickets" outside the Kravis Center from time to time. During last year's U.S. Senate campaign, former Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek refused to cross the picket line.

Stagehands union files charge against Kravis Center with National Labor Relations Board

By Jan Sjostrom

Daily News Arts Editor
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The stagehands union has filed another charge with the National Labor Relations Board in its long-running dispute with the Kravis Center.

The charge filed April 30 by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts as well as its Local 500 chapter alleges that the Kravis Center failed to execute an agreement reached with the union Jan. 20 that would have established a new collective bargaining agreement and ended litigation. The charge also alleges that the Kravis did not bargain in good faith.

The resolution “wasn’t anything to have a party about, but it was a deal,” said Alan Glassman, secretary and business representative of the local chapter.

Robert Janowitz, the attorney representing the Kravis, said the January agreement was tentative and subject to the Kravis board’s approval.

“There were several important issues the Kravis board had with the tentative agreement,” he said. “They authorized the CEO (Chief Executive Officer Judith Mitchell) to continue negotiations.”

If the labor board concludes that the parties reached an agreement and the Kravis didn’t sign it, the usual remedy would be to compel the center to sign, said Margaret Diaz, Region 12’s acting director.

The union and the center have been at odds since talks broke down in September 2000 and the Kravis stopped using union stagehands in Dreyfoos Hall.

The union filed its first charge in March 2001. In December 2008, a federal appeals court upheld two lower-court rulings that the center had engaged in unfair labor practices when it ejected the union. The center resumed hiring union workers in March 2009.

The union filed a second charge in March 2011, alleging that the Kravis acted illegally when talks faltered in January 2011 after two years of negotiations and the center imposed its final offer. The board has combined the cases, Diaz said.

The board has not finished computing the amount the Kravis owes workers for back pay for the period when it did not employ union workers. The union and the Kravis disagree on the amount, which the union claims is at least $3.6 million.

Union claims Kravis board reneged on labor dispute agreement

By Jane Musgrave

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

— The Kravis Center has reneged on an agreement that would end a long-running labor dispute that could cost the theater millions, members of the stagehands union said Wednesday.

Calling the center's refusal to approve the contract that was hashed out in January "bizarre," the international president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees this month wrote Kravis board members, urging them to honor the agreement.

"I appeal to you, the members of the Board, to honor the agreement, end the dispute, and go into the future in a spirit of mutual understanding and respect," wrote New York City-based union president Matthew Loeb. "In this way, your resources and the donations of your supporters will be used to accomplish the mission of The Kravis Center, instead of being spent on continuing costly litigation."

The failure of the board to approve the negotiated contract has already spurred the union to file yet another charge against the center with the National Labor Relations Board.

Loeb estimated the center owes union members $4 million to $5 million in damages. Local union officials estimate the center has spent another $1 million on legal fees, a claim Kravis officials have disputed.

Attorney Robert Janowitz, who represents the theater, said the union's claims are unfounded. Any agreement that was reached during a 15-hour negotiating session in January was tentative. "It was understood that final approval rested with the board of directors," he said.

Neither he nor union officials would reveal the terms of the tentative accord. The settlement talks were confidential, Janowitz said.

The labor dispute began in 2000 when the Kravis fired six full-time union workers and broke off contract negotiations. An administrative law judge, the NLRB and an appeals court ruled that the theater engaged in unfair labor practices. In 2008, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the board to bargain in good faith.

Union members were hopeful that had happened during the marathon negotiating session, said Alan Glassman, business manager for the local union. Kravis CEO Judith Mitchell told union officials she had the power to negotiate an agreement to end the dispute, Loeb said in his letter. Surprisingly, he said, board members rejected the deal.

The union has conducted informational pickets several times during the last two years. The Kravis was forced to cancel a performance in 2008 when a national company refused to cross a picket line.

"I imagine it's going to get ugly," Glassman said. "I'd like it to be finished but they don't seem to want to follow the law."