ATLANTA – The International Alliance of Theatrical Employes’ (IATSE) successful organizing effort on behalf of the hair and make-up workers at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta began when a member of the theatre’s management approached a worker with a take-it-or-leave-it piece of paper promising a one dollar-an-hour pay increase. The paper delineated what the theatre wanted to pay as increases for the next several years.
“It all started with an employer underestimating the concerns and feelings of an employee, on top of the fact that about ten years had passed since the crews last pay increase and the hair and make up workers at the theater were not receiving any contributions for health and welfare benefits,” said Greg Kasper, IATSE International Representative. That employee contacted the IATSE and International President Thomas C. Short assigned International Representative Kasper to organize the hair and make-up workers at the Fox Theatre.
Originally seven hair and make-up workers signed authorization cards calling for collective bargaining and representation by the IATSE. International Representative Kasper approached the Fox Theatre asking for voluntary recognition and the commencement of collective bargaining. Not so easy, said the Fox, which brought in the lawyers to avoid union recognition. IATSE General Counsel Steve B. Spivak of Spivak, Lipton, Watanbe, Spivak, Moss & Orpfan countered by bringing in Atlanta Attorney Leslie Troope to represent the workers. A legal wrangle over who was in and not in the unit led to a National Labor Relation Board decision that the unit consisted of four employees, all of whom had signed cards.
On February 10, the IATSE won the election. On February 21, IATSE Local 798 Make Up Artists and Hair Stylists was officially certified as representing the unit and collecting bargaining commenced.