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City Of Wichita Rejects Contract For Union Stage Employees At Century II

Deborah Shaar
KMUW/File Photo
Century II

The City of Wichita rejected a contract with a local union that represents theatrical workers at Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) Local 190 wants to update the contract it has held with the city since 1991. The new contract presented to the city council Tuesday established a new level of service and wages for union employees who work performances and events at Century II.

Mayor Jeff Longwell said the contract doesn't take into account the unique needs of the four arts groups based at Century II.

"We heard from every user group saying that they support the Local Union 190, they admire the local union 190, but they reject this contract in the way that it's written," Longwell said.

Music Theatre Wichita, the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Grand Opera and Music Theatre for Young People say they weren’t included in the contract negotiations, and the agreement would affect their operations negatively.

Symphony CEO Don Reinhold told council members the arts groups were “blindsided” by the agreement, and questioned the city’s transparency and governance.

John D’Angelo, director of the city’s Arts and Cultural Division, says his office began negotiating an updated contract with representatives of I.A.T.S.E last year. After union members approved the proposal in April, he provided a copy to the arts groups and asked for feedback.

D’Angelo says the union declined to meet or discuss the tenants’ issues, and asked that the contract be presented to City Council for approval.

Vice Mayor Janet Miller said because I.A.T.S.E. Local 190 membership had already approved the contract, the city’s only option was to reject it.

"I don’t think that there’s been any nefarious, under-handed or ill will in the dealings in this negotiation, at least not from what I’ve seen or heard. I certainly don’t want to vilify the union," Miller said. "This is a new process. It’s different than our other union negotiations. My hope is that we can figure out a way to come to a resolution."

Longwell, Vice Mayor Miller and Council Members Pete Meitzner, Jeff Blubaugh and Bryan Frye voted unanimously to reject the contract.

Council members Lavonta Williams and James Clendenin did not attend the meeting.

The mayor says he hopes negotiations can continue between the city, the four arts groups and the union.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.