Carnegie Hall’s opening gala—its biggest fundraising night of the year—was supposed to take place on October 2. The black tie event benefiting the nonprofit’s artistic and education programs would have included performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra and Grammy Award-winners Joshua Bell and Esperanza Spalding.
Early in the week, though, patrons found a note on the venue’s website announcing that the performance had been called off: “This concert has regrettably been cancelled due to a strike by Carnegie Hall’s stagehands, represented by IATSE/Local One (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).” It was the first strike in Carnegie Hall’s history.
The nonprofit’s five full-time stagehands are among its highest-paid employees. Each of them takes home more money than Carnegie Hall’s director of administration, development director, and director of finance.
Carnegie Hall does employ more stagehands, the Village Voice is told, part time and on an as-needed basis. But administration would not say how many such workers they hire or how much they’re paid.
The fact that the full-time employees command such high salaries is exactly why Carnegie Hall wanted to keep union stagehands out of its new educational wing—the crux of the disagreement that prompted Wednesday’s strike.
Said Local One president James J. Claffey Jr. in a statement: “Carnegie Hall Corporation continued for 13 months to fail to acknowledge the traditional and historic work that we perform, and after no significant progress, we found it absolutely necessary to take action to protect the members that we represent.”
The new wing, management argues, is outside the union’s purview—i.e., it’s not a concert venue—and using Local One’s members for work in that part of Carnegie Hall would be cost-prohibitive.
“We are disappointed that, despite the fact that the stagehands have one of the most lucrative contracts in the industry, they are now seeking to expand their jurisdiction beyond the concert hall and into the new education wing in ways that would compromise Carnegie Hall’s education mission,” Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, Clive Gillinson, said in a statement.
Gillinson himself is Carnegie Hall’s highest-paid employee, with a base salary of $864,928 and additional compensation worth $224,591. Including benefits, Gillinson took home a total of $1,113,571 in 2011. But he’s the only person in the corporation who makes more money than every stagehand.
Here is a full list of Carnegie Hall’s 11 next highest-paid employees, according to Internal Revenue Service Form 990, which the nonprofit is required to sub-mit to the IRS and keep on file. Union stagehands—all of whom are listed on the form as working 80 hours per week—are in bold. (Notably, the salaries reflect pay cuts enacted in recent years.)
2. Dennis O’Connell, properties manager: $464,632
3. James Csollany, carpenter: $441,223
4. Richard Matlaga, chief financial officer (not listed on website staff box): $429,259
5. John Cardinale, electrician: $425,872
6. Aaron Levine, chief information officer: $406,048
7. John Goodson, electrician: $395,207
8. Ken Beltrone, carpenter: $371,813
9. Anna Weber, general manager, artistic and operations: $368,255
10. Susan J. Brady, development director: $317,110
11. Richard Malenka, director: $315,277
12. Theodore E. Phillips, director of finance: $259,812
The strike was over in the blink of an eye. On Friday, Carnegie Hall and Local One announced they’d settled their dispute after a single cancelation (the gala). The concert portion of the event that raised about $2.7 million last year had been called off, but a $1,500-a-plate dinner at the Waldorf Astoria went ahead as planned, raising nearly $3.4 million.
Under the new agreement, Local One will have “limited jurisdiction” within the new educational wing. Carnegie Hall spokesman Matt Carlson would not elaborate on what limited jurisdiction entails, beyond saying, “There will be some aspects of work in those spaces, where relevant, that will be handled by stagehands.”
Carlson says that as part of the agreement, Carnegie Hall will hire one additional stagehand “dedicated to work in the Education Wing.” He declines to divulge how much that person will be paid.
In a statement on Friday, Executive Director Gillinson hailed the agreement as “one that meets all of our institution’s education needs as we work toward fulfilling the potential of our new spaces in Carnegie Hall’s Education Wing.”
Local One seems pleased to be out of the spotlight. Other than the brief statement posted on its website, the union did not utter a peep to the press during the strike. On Friday, after striking a deal with Carnegie Hall, Local One president Claffey finally responded to the Voice‘s requests for comment.
“Local One is very pleased with our new four-year agreement,” Claffey writes in an e-mail. “The Union and Carnegie Hall both met each of their objectives and look forward to a productive and rewarding future.”
The new wing, located in the upper floors of Carnegie Hall, is slated to open sometime next fall.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 9, 2013