BETHESDA, MD (CelebrityAccess) — The local chapter of a theatrical union has accused the Music Center at Strathmore, a Bethesda-based performing arts center, of illegally laying off 19 employees from the venue’s ticketing office.
According to a statement from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board after the Strathmore laid off all part time ticket sellers and all but one full-time employee in their ticket sales division.
The union claims that the Strathmore violated an agreement reached with the union in April by hiring inexperienced non-union members to sell tickets to upcoming performances.
“We would prefer to engage the public in the box office or by working the phones,” said IATSE Business Agent Anne Vantine, ”but we will take to the streets to explain to the community what is happening and to right this wrong.”
“You don’t fill seats by being cheats. Key to restarting the arts after this long pause in live entertainment will be getting patrons to return. Experienced ticket sellers will play a key role in making that happen. Now is not the time to be intentionally petty and cruel to their hardworking and loyal ticketing professionals. Strathmore should value its ticket sellers and honor its contracts,” Valentine added.
According to Bethesda Magazine, union members on Thursday picketed near the Strathmore and plan to do so again on Saturday, the Union said.
In a statement to Bethesda Beat on Friday, a spokesperson for the Strathmore said:
“Despite these challenging circumstances, Strathmore maintained its full time and regularly scheduled part time staff (including its Ticket Office staff) through the end of July by making changes to operations, implementing cuts and deferments of expenses, and through the use of emergency grants and funding.”
“Unfortunately, with full recovery for our industry still out of view, we had to take additional steps to ensure its ongoing financial sustainability as Paycheck Protection Program and other emergency funding ran out,” the statement continued.