NEW YORK — There won’t be a picket line at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week next month.
IMG Fashion and Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached an agreement late on Thursday night.
“The agreement, which runs through the February 2013 event, will ensure IMG Fashion’s ability to present this premier event using world-class talent from the New York theatrical industry,” the two parties stated Friday. “We are pleased with the outcome and will continue to coordinate efforts as the event gets under way in September.”
IMG Fashion’s biannual event, which is moving to Lincoln Center next month after setting up its tents in Bryant Park for almost two decades, was faced with the prospect of a union dispute during the show.
Local One has some 600 members who work in or around the Lincoln Center campus, whose work can range from building stages and sets to installing lighting systems.
While Lincoln Center has a contract agreement with the union to employ its workers for various venues on the campus, including the Metropolitan Opera and Alice Tully Hall, it did not extend to Damrosch Park, the site of IMG’s fashion shows. Big Apple Circus, which sets up its tents at Damrosch Park from October to January, does not have a contract with Local One but relies on its own full-time employees to run the annual event.
The agreement’s impact on designers is expected to be minimal to none. On Friday, they, along with producers and publicists, received an e-mail from IMG Fashion executive director Christina Neault underscoring this point.
“I am happy to let you all know that IMG Fashion has reached an agreement with Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees regarding Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week,” Neault wrote in the e-mail. “We all realize that this has been an unnecessary distraction for the upcoming season and [are] glad we were able to come to a speedy and effective solution. I’m sure many of you will have questions regarding how this will affect your individual shows and the wonderful part is the answer is not very much.”
Local One president James J. Claffey Jr. told WWD that the union is “very satisfied” with the three-year agreement that ensures work for its members around Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. “We both sat down after long, hard-working negotiations with a deal that satisfies both sides,” he said. “We now have a relationship with some folks we did not know before. We found them to be terrific.”
According to one source familiar with union issues, the agreement could serve Local One well beyond fashion week by setting a precedent for other events there in the future.
“[Fashion week] is a beginning of many things in Damrosch Park,” the source said. “If this is successful, it will become like Bryant Park — in a way that many other people will start to have events there.”