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Lights Out for Broadway?

If you follow Broadway theater at all, you know that on Sunday, members of Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (the union representing most of Broadway's stagehands) authorized a strike against the League of American Theaters and Producers.

That doesn't mean you should start trying to get a refund if you've got November tickets to Spring Awakening or Jersey Boys or some other hot fall show.  But it does mean that, come Dec. 1 and the busy holiday season, the majority of Broadway's theaters would go dark if the union's leaders act on the strike vote.

At issue for the stagehands, who have been working without a contract since the end of July:  pay (of course) and work rules.  Producers are offering a 16 percent increase over five years but want changes in provisions that can force them to hire more stagehands than a show needs.  The union is asking for a 22 percent pay increase over five years, and claims the producers' current "final offer" would mean a 38 percent loss in income and jobs.

The last Broadway strike was a four-day walkout by musicians in 2003.  Broadway tourism is big business, and officials estimate that New York businesses (including theaters, restaurants and so on) could lose more than $5 million a day if a strike happens.

Here's hoping the two sides can work out their differences. But if they don't, what's your feeling about a strike?  Take the poll and/or add comments below.

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