As the strike among Medieval Times performers nears its fourth month, picketing workers have decided to take action with an 80s-themed rally.
They are inviting supporters to don their “most tubular” 80s gear and join the picket line at the Buena Park dinner theater for a “Strike-tacular” event on Sunday, June 4.
The theme may be lighthearted, but the underlying issues remain serious.
“We were out here on the picket line six days a week but we cut that to down five days,” said Jake Bowman, who portrays a knight in the shows and is a union organizer. “Many of the striking performers have had to get part-time jobs to supplement their income.”
The performers launched an unfair labor practice strike against the company on Feb. 11, claiming management has given substantial pay hikes to workers at other Medieval Times castles while their wages remain low amid unsafe work conditions.
About 30 of the castle’s queens, trumpet players, chancellors, knights and squires voted in November to join the American Guild of Variety Artists. But management, they say, has consistently blocked their efforts to secure a “living wage” and provide improved safety measures.
Others opted not to strike but are still part of the bargaining unit.
Officials with Medieval Times and attorney Daniel J. Sobol, who represents the company, could not be reached for comment Friday.
The unionization in Buena Park came on the heels of another union victory earlier last year at Medieval Times’ Lyndhurst, N.J. castle where workers also secured AGVA membership.
Both locations have suffered retaliation as a result, according to Susanne K. Doris, AGVA’s executive secretary-treasurer.
“After the New Jersey location voted to become part of the union, Medieval Times gave a $1-an-hour raise to employees at every castle except New Jersey,” she said. “And after Buena Park unionized, management started giving knights a 25% raise, while others in the show cast got a 15% to 20% raise. That happened at every castle except Buena Park and New Jersey.”
Erin Zapcic, who also portrays a queen in the shows, said some knights at the Buena Park castle are making $18.50 an hour and falling off of horses, while similar performers at Disneyland make $33 an hour for 15-minute shows with breaks in between.
Dallas-based Medieval Times operates a total of 10 castle dinner theaters, with additional locations in Dallas, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Scottsdale and Toronto.
Source: Orange County Register