Septemper 4, 2006
- NATIONAL BLUE MAN TOUR OPENS IN SEPTEMBER
- PUBLIC IMAGE NOT REALITY FOR EMPLOYEES
- BLUE MAN GROUP LAW FIRM FLUSH WITH CLIENT CASH
What Happens in Vegas.....
After a successful union organizing campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada by IATSE Local 720, the 40 plus stagehand and wardrobe employees of the Blue Man Group Vegas show, who work behind the stage and support the Blue Man Actors, expected to be in negotiations with owner Matt Goldman by now. They thought their overwhelming ?yes? vote on May 25th 2006 for Union representation was all they needed to start bargaining with their employer Matt Goldman.
Blue Man Group owner Matt Goldman had told employees through a press release that he would respect their union vote decision and abide by the ?great democratic traditions of our country? in which employees would vote in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The Blue Man employees, headquartered at the Venetian Hotel and Casino, won the election with over 75% of employees voting ?yes?. Of the seven Blue Man Group venues, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, New York, Toronto, London, and Berlin, Las Vegas is the only one represented by an IATSE Union. London and Berlin are represented by unions in their countries.
After being certified by the NLRB as the winner in the election, IATSE Local 720 requested repeatedly that Blue Man Group join them at the bargaining table as required by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). They refused. It was then the employees faced a harsh reality about Blue Man. A new light was about to be cast on the employer. The Blue Man group did not care about the law or their employees? rights. ?Matt Goldman was always around saying hello and showing concern before the election, now it?s like he got lost down the tubes of the show? said one employee of Blue Man Group who requested to remain anonymous.
In addition, Goldman told the stage crew that he and his partners Chris Wink and Phil Stanton were card carrying members of ?unions? and were in support of whatever decision the employees made regarding IATSE Local 720. A search of national union membership records of AGVA, Actors Equity, SAG, and AFTRA at the request of IATSE Local 720 did not produce any record of union membership for the Blue Man Owners. ?We should have known then that what he (Goldman) says and what he does are two different things?, said a crew member who requested anonyminity in order to not lose his job.
Goldman and his PR group who like to use the words ?exciting?, ?innovative? and ?creative? in describing Blue Man Group simply did what employers have always done when their employees don?t follow the script, they hid behind their lawyers when they found out they lost the NLRB election. Rather than face his employees and keep his word, Goldman used his politically connected law firm to find excuses for his broken promise to his employees.
The Law Firm
Blue Man Group is represented by Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld LLP a Washington DC law firm best noted for its many political connections and campaign donations to politicians.
This anti-union law firm has over 1,000 lawyers on staff and has been feeding at the lobbying trough for years. Their list of counsel reads like a who?s who of former congressmen, senators and political consultants including Robert Strauss, Vernon Jordan, and President Bush?s nephew George P. Bush. (see media material)
After Blue Man Group refused to bargain with the employees, as required by law, the NLRB upheld an unfair labor practice filed against them by IATSE Local 720. The NLRB issued a complaint against Blue Man Group, the response to which was an admission they refused to bargain and they sought to have the NLRB decision against them changed.
The NLRB attorneys brought a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the employees and IATSE Local 720 to the NLRB Board in Washington DC where the motion is now pending.
With billing rates exceeding what most employers are able to pay Akin Gump Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP is one of the ten largest law firms in the United States. Akin Gump has just signed a 15 year lease for some of the most expensive real estate in New York City, the new Bank of America tower on Sixth Avenue. The lease is for 203,000 square feet of space comprising five floors at a rent of $100 per square foot. Reportedly the highest rent ever paid for a lease in New York City (see media material).
Their lobbying payments on behalf of clients for 2004 and 2005 exceeded $55,000,000 million dollars. From 1998 to 2005 Akin Gump spent over $149,000,000 million dollars lobbying for clients. This includes companies from the middle east and foreign oil interests (see media material).
With money like that spent on lawyers, clients do not expect to lose NLRB elections and partner Lawrence Levien of Akin Gump must have had some explaining to do when Blue Man Group lost the election to Blue Man?s Las Vegas employees.
?Blue Man Group must spend a ton of money on this law firm from Washington DC? said IATSE Local 720 President Hal Ritzer. ?We are told their attorney had a private suite, a fleet of limousines and several legal assistants at his disposal when he was in Las Vegas. The employees of Blue Man simply did not understand why the company would spend all that money on lawyers and yet could not give them additional health care benefits for their children and a solid pension plan?.
Does Not Stay in Vegas.....
?Blue Man?s national tour should be highlighted by the fact that their claims of creativity and innovation on stage merely cover-up old fashioned union busting when hard working men and women seek to exercise their rights to form a union? said IATSE Local 720 President Hal Ritzer from Las Vegas.
?The election issue is about control, not money. It seems Matt Goldman would rather pay Akin Gump then his long term employees who want the union. It?s no wonder the Blue Man actors never speak onstage, Matt Goldman probably is worried what they would say about his efforts to bust the employees union? said Ritzer.
?The true face of the Blue Man Group owner Matt Goldman is green, the color of money. We encourage all workers in the United States to support their right to organize with the Union of their choice just like Blue Man?s employees in Las Vegas.? stated Ritzer.
Blue Man?s tour which starts September 26th and runs for 42 dates in the United States may be subject to a national AFL-CIO boycott until it recognizes the rights of its employees to negotiate at the bargaining table.
FOR MORE MEDIA INFORMATION:
Las Vegas Review Journal
Las Vegas City Life Magazine
National Labor Relations Board (Las Vegas Office)
600 Las Vegas Blvd S # 400
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLC
Akin Gump rental in NYC
Akin Gump Lobbying payments 2005-04
Akin Gump lobbying spending 1998-2005
Blue Man Tour dates