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Broadway labor talks collapse, shows canceled for week

  • Story Highlights
  • Split among union members rumored to have stalled talks
  • Twenty-seven Broadway shows canceled through November 25
  • Strike began November 10
  • Union represents 3,000 behind-the-scenes workers
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Broadway producers canceled shows through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend after the Sunday night collapse of talks aimed at ending a nine-day-long strike by stagehands.

A striking stagehand hands out fliers outside a Broadway theater.

A source close to the talks blamed a split inside the local union for the stalled talks, according to a theater columnist.

"We are profoundly disappointed to have to tell you that talks broke off tonight, and that no further negotiations are scheduled," said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the League of American Theatres and Producers, in a written statement.

Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said producers walked out of the weekend negotiations late Sunday after telling the stagehand representatives that what the union "had offered was simply not enough."

New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel said his sources close to the talks told him national negotiators were close to reaching a deal, but local union leaders objected.

"The local guys, the guys who belong to the union that represent the Broadway stagehands, their leadership rebelled against that deal, and I'm hearing that there's a split in the union," Riedel told CNN Radio.

Riedel said Broadway shows raked in $30 million during last year's Thanksgiving week. Video Watch how the strike means money lost around New York »

The strike has silenced and darkened 27 Broadway stages since it began November 10.

The producers' statement Sunday evening said the decision to extend the show cancellations through November 25 was "out of respect for our public and our loyal theatergoers, many of whom are traveling from around the world."

"We presented a comprehensive proposal that responded to the union's concerns about loss of jobs and earnings and attempted to address our need for some flexibilities in running our business," St. Martin said. "The union rejected our effort to compromise and continues to require us to hire more people than we need."

The union represents 3,000 property persons, stage and studio electricians, set carpenters, sound designers, audio technicians, moving-light operators, riggers and special effects people in New York.

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Both sides agreed to hold marathon weekend talks in an effort to restart the shows for Thanksgiving. Earlier talks ended on November 8, just before the union walked out on strike.

Meanwhile, the Writers Guild of American continues its work stoppage, shutting down late-night television talk shows and threatening prime-time series heading into the new year. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Rahul Bali contributed to this report.

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