Picket lines to mark Manitoba Moose game

Two of the Manitoba's largest labour groups are holding a mass picket at Winnipeg's MTS Centre before Thursday night's Manitoba Moose season opener.

Fans of the American Hockey League team are being asked to show support for unionized stagehands who were let go when the old arena closed almost a year ago.

"We're not asking people not to go to the Moose game. We're saying, go. Enjoy the Moose game. But we are asking them to support us by not buying food at the game and not purchasing at the concessions," said Darlene Dziewit, president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

The Winnipeg Labour Council is also sponsoring the event.

Dziewit hopes public pressure will force arena management to offer work to members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents stagehands, lighting crews, riggers and special-effects technicians.

IATSE had a contract with the old arena for almost 50 years, and they expected their 220 members would continue to work in the new arena when it opened almost a year ago. But management at the MTS Centre signed a five-year deal with a non-union labour service that operates out of British Columbia.

Apply for non-union jobs: management

IATSE local 63 president Brent Letain says the workers haven't heard from management for months, and they want to "rekindle the fire, so we can at least get a dialogue going and maybe work out a deal where we work in there on whatever it is we can get."

MTS Centre management says it has no plans to meet with the union. Jim Ludlow characterized the picket line a "tactic of intimidation or coercion to force us to either deal with them or give them jobs."

Ludlow says the new arena has no contractual obligation to IATSE workers – but he said there's nothing to stop individual IATSE members from applying for non-union stagehand jobs at the MTS Centre.

courtesy CBC Manitoba