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Joining IATSE is Good for the Soul (Pepper)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

TORONTO, ON – On June 5, front-of-house workers at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts voted overwhelmingly for representation by IATSE Local B173. The Young Centre is the home of Soulpepper, Toronto’s largest not-for-profit theatre company. FOH workers at Soulpepper began informal discussions with IATSE Local B173 in February.

“Front-of-house workers at Soulpepper needed help bettering their working conditions, addressing health and safety concerns, and improving communications with management,” said Paul Williams, Secretary Treasurer of IATSE Local B173. “Our local represents over 350 front-of-house workers in the GTA and we were happy to help them join the union.”

The effort to organize Soulpepper has launched a broader, large scale campaign to unionize front-of-house workers in the GTA. Leaders from other IATSE theatre locals have come together to form a city-wide organizing committee to help front-of-house workers join the union. The campaign website is IATSE-reps-FOH.ca.

“Front-of-house workers often work low-wage, precarious jobs with few, if any, benefits,” continued Local B173 President Jeff McMahan. “By working together through the union, we are able to improve those working conditions.

The application for certification was filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board on May 29 and the vote was held on June 5. The ballot count that evening revealed overwhelming support for IATSE Local B173 representation. With the stagehands being represented by Local 58, the scenic artists and prop builders by Local 828, and now the FOH staff by IATSE B173, the venue is almost wall-to-wall IATSE. These Young Centre workers join their FOH colleagues already working under IATSE Local B173 agreements at the Royal Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, the Sony Centre, the St. Lawrence Centre, the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre.

Located in Toronto’s Distillery District, The Young Centre for the Performing Arts is a brand-new theatre built into 19th century Victorian-era buildings: two tank houses of the old Gooderham & Worts Distillery. It is home to both the Soulpepper Theatre Company and the theatre school of George Brown College. The Young Centre features a number of classrooms, studio theatres and a multi-purpose space, as well as the 207-seat Michael Young Theatre and the 315-seat Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre.