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Stage Directors Turn Down League of Theaters Contract

June 22, 1989|JAN HERMAN | Times Staff Writer

The Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers has rejected a final contract offer from the League of Resident Theaters in a nationwide vote by a margin of 61% to 39%.

The vote could affect South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Orange County's only league theater. A mere 18% of the 1,039 members in the directors' union voted.

A top union official said Wednesday that the union is "eager to go back to the bargaining table" after offering on Tuesday to extend its old contract with the league through Aug. 8 so that member theaters "can proceed as usual" with their seasons.

If new negotiations fail to resolve wage and jurisdictional disputes by that date, however, the union will go on strike against any league theaters that refuse to sign a union-promulgated contract, "which we will offer to them individually," Kathryn Haapala, SSDC deputy executive secretary, said from New York.

Tom Hall, president of the league, said Wednesday from San Diego that the league would return to the bargaining table "if progress can be made." He said a decision will be announced today. There are 67 league theaters nationwide, including seven in California.

At South Coast, producing artistic director David Emmes said Wednesday that he would reject on principle a contract written solely by the union. "Even if the league changes its position, a promulgated contract is unacceptable to us," he said.

South Coast's fall season will not be delayed by a strike, Emmes emphasized, because "we have been planning it under the assumption that there would be some sort of impasse. We are going ahead with or without SSDC directors."

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