Medieval New Jersey workers form company’s first union

Medieval Times workers formed the dinner theater chain’s first union, bringing collective bargaining to a castle in northern New Jersey.

The Knights, Squires, Performers and Squires of the Lyndhurst location voted 26 to 11 in favor of joining the American Guild of Variety Artists after a vote count Friday night, according to the union. The National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the election, has yet to certify the results.

The workers said in a statement on Friday that they were grateful for the “outpouring of support” they received from the public and the guidance they received from the union.

“We look forward to working with management to create a fairer, safer and more enjoyable medieval time,” they said. “Together, we will build a workplace that allows us to thrive while doing the work we love. »

As reported on – last month, Medieval Times workers in New Jersey have organized to improve their pay and working conditions, with a special emphasis on safety. Medieval-themed shows involve jousting on horseback and other dangerous stunts, all in front of unpredictable and sometimes rowdy crowds.

Employees told the — they deserve more pay for the work they do — stable workers and actors often start around the state minimum wage of $13 an hour — as well as greater security to help control the public. Some castle workers have been members of other entertainment industry unions and want to have a voice similar to Medieval Times.

“Our situation has become quite dire at the castle,” a worker told The -. ” Something must be done. »

Medieval Times, which did not respond to interview requests, objected to the organizing effort. The company hired a union avoidance consultant who held meetings at the chateau with employees at a cost of $3,200 per day plus expenses.

The Lyndhurst union is said to include around 40 workers, most of them performing in the show or working in the stables, where the castle is home to around two dozen horses. The American Guild of Variety Artists represents workers at other theaters and touring shows, including the Rockettes and Disneyland performers.

“Our situation has become quite dire at the castle. »

– Medieval era worker

Medieval Times workers often put on two or three two-hour shows a day and have to rehearse regularly to stay safe. Knights fight with heavy equipment, smash lances as they mount and jump on horseback, while squires and squires handle horses that can be excited by crowds. The Queen and other actors run the show and often have to control the crowd while staying in character.

A common complaint among workers is that the company acts as if this very atypical job is a normal 9 to 5 job.

“They treat a lot of professionally trained actors like anyone can do this job,” previously told the — Purnell Thompson, a stableman and union supporter. “They treat a lot of the stablemen as if we were completely replaceable and they consider it an entry level job. I have worked entry level pet sitting jobs. It’s not that. »

The Medieval Times campaign is part of a wave of labor organizing this year at well-known companies including Amazon, Starbucks, REI and Apple. Like Medieval Times, these four employers have seen workers unionize for the first time in recent months, fueled by a tight labor market and the frustrations of working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lyndhurst Castle may not be the last to form a union within Medieval Times. The Texas-based chain has eight other locations in the United States and one in Canada.

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