Meadowlands Exposition Center stagehands on strike; demand better wages, conditions

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Stagehand workers gathered outside the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus on Sunday to demand better working conditions and wages.

Dozens of members arrived around 7 a.m. carrying picket signs and talking to passersby about their cause. The workers are part of Local 59 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and have been on strike since their contract ended.

"We can't come to an agreement under the wages, the benefits and the respect that we deserve working at the convention center," said Greg Hancox, president of IATSE Local 59.

The local provides manpower for stage productions, concerts and special events at the convention center and other production venues across North Jersey. Their contract with their employer, SMG Exposition Services expired on June 30, at which point, the workers went on strike, Hancox said. SMG provides decorating services for the Meadowlands Exposition Center.

"The convention center is behind the times in wages and benefits and we needed to take a stand," Hancox added.

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Local 59 members picketed outside the Meadowlands Exposition Center on November 7.
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Local 59 members picketed outside the Meadowlands Exposition Center on November 7.

SMG and its parent company, ASM Global, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Picketers assembled at the main entrance of the convention center and dispersed into three groups around the building. Those driving in the area honked at workers as they marched outside. Hancox said workers have been picketing at the convention center since Thursday and plan to keep striking until Tuesday. Their protest coincides with Kosherfest 2021, one of the largest kosher-certified products trade shows.

The local is comprised of 240 stagehand workers. Hancox said the union isn't exclusive to the Meadowlands. He said he works per diem and travels to different production sites and venues whenever work becomes available.

"You can't wait for the phone to ring always you know, we have schedules," Hancox said. "So to get other jobs [we] jump around to different productions."

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According to Hancox, Local 59 has been the Meadowlands Exposition Center's only production workforce since 1992. Laborers said wages are below the industry's standard wage scale. They also claim to be working without health care. Currently, the local is negotiating new proposals but said their counterproposals "were miles apart" when it comes to benefits.

Workers haven't seen a raise in the last 10 years, Hancox added.

"We only get paid while we work there. So everybody's on a per diem basis," Hancox said. "Who would want to come to someplace that's paying literally $10 less per hour?"

Matt Loeb, IATSE president, joined the workers on Sunday.

"We're trying to make a move by raising the wage to make it compatible with other facilities," Hancox added.

Jessie Gomez is a local reporter for and For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


Twitter: @jessiereport

This article originally appeared on IATSE stagehand workers picket outside Meadowlands Exposition Center

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