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Owner of Iron Horse, in Northampton, hit with another labor complaint

The Calvin Theatre at 19 King Street in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ellery Berenger

The owner of several entertainment venues in western Massachusetts, including the Iron Horse and the Calvin Theater, is involved in another labor complaint.

A union representing stagehands and technicians has alleged it has not heard from Iron Horse owner Eric Suher since July in its latest contract negotiations. The group has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Iron Horse with the National Labor Relations Board. The previous three-year contract expired in 2021 and workers are on the job under its provisions until a new agreement can be reached.

Cathleen O'Keefe is the business manager for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 232. She said the two sides had exchanged proposals, but after the union made its later counteroffer, Iron Horse went silent.

She said the main sticking point is over wages and called the expired contract “substandard” compared to industry standards.

"That's what's holding us back. We feel the employees at least have a right to $20 an hour versus the $18.60 which we're currently under contract with," she said.

O’Keefe previously worked as an operations assistant for New England Public Media.

"The employees are frustrated...they would like to see some resolution, and they deserve it," O'Keefe said."

When reached by phone Tuesday morning, Suher declined comment.

A spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board said its Boston office is investigating. If the regional office finds there is merit to the charge, a complaint will be issued, and a hearing would be held with an administrative law judge.

Iron Horse recently settled with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office over several unrelated labor law complaints. The company was accused of not paying some employees on time, not having an established sick leave policy and denying the use of sick leave for some, among other charges.

The Calvin Theater in Northampton was also the subject of a federal lawsuitby The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, which licenses music made by its clients to be performed. The group alleges the Calvin Theater, an Iron Horse venue, allowed ASCAP music to be played even after its subscription to do so had expired. According to federal documents, there’s been no response by the Calvin, Iron Horse or Suher as of yet.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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