Union leaders respond to Joffrey lockout

July 5, 2011

Kate Dries and Lauren Chooljian

Fabrice Calmels and Victoria Jaiani in 'Woven Dreams'

Union officials from the American Guild of Musical Artists say the Joffrey Ballet's threat of a lockout is a bluff.  

As WBEZ reported yesterday, the Chicago-based ballet company sent a letter to its dancers last week telling them to clean out their lockers and turn in their keys by Thursday.

According to AGMA National Executive Director Alan S. Gordon, dancers are fighting against increasing the work week from 25 to 30 hours because there wouldn't be a corresponding pay increase.

"I think the idea of a lockout is just stupid," said Gordon. "First of all, it's illegal because the company and union haven't reached an impasse, you can't have a lockout before you reach an impasse. And part from being illegal, it's foolish because they aren't here, and you can't lockout people who aren't working."

Gordon also believes the Joffrey is trying to bolster its bargaining position by creating press to scare the dancers. Gordon says another union representative met with dancers today to talk about the negotiations.

A representative from the Joffrey said the company had not spoken with the union today. She said the Joffrey stood by its position to cancel the beginning of the Fall season if a resolution isn't met.