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Union plans to picket Corn Crib before Blues Traveler show

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NORMAL — The stage crew union that has a history of staffing live shows in Bloomington-Normal will form a picket line Saturday afternoon at the Corn Crib.

Craig Chladny, president of the local chapter of International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees, said leadership from The Corn Crib in Normal, The Castle Theatre in Bloomington and NTL Productions have not been willing to discuss contracts, despite the union previously working with the two venues.

The goal of the informational picket, which will take place from noon to 7 p.m. before the Blues Traveler show, is “trying to get them to open a dialogue,” Chladny said.

He said IATSE contracts can be made with either the promoter or the venue and either would be beneficial for their approximately 100 members.

Nick LeRoy, owner of Bloomington-based NTL Productions, said to his knowledge no agreement has been reached between the union and the Corn Crib, the site of Saturday’s concert and picket.

“Union contracts and agreements are done between the union and the venues themselves,” he said, adding that NTL has hired its own local staff.

Matt Stembridge, president of operations and one of three owners at Corn Crib, said he was surprised to hear IATSE will be picketing.

“It’s surprising because I don’t know what their expectation is,” he said. “I’m humbled because I certainly didn't expect to offend a group of people looking for an opportunity.”

He and his team took over ownership at the end of 2018, with the initial intent to only serve as a baseball stadium. Since venturing into event hosting with limited capacity, The Corn Crib has utilized in-house staff for events.

Stembridge said he has not worked with IATSE since coming to the Crib or had any formal conversations about coming to an agreement.

“I don’t know the past history of the building with that union … I don’t know their costs, relationships or anything as it relates to this group,” he said, adding that he has been looking to partner with as many entities within the community as he can as it “only helps to strengthen” what they can offer at the Crib.

Stembridge said he would be ”happy to sit down (with IATSE leadership) and talk it through and get a better understanding, but we just haven’t had that.”

Chladny said the local IATSE notified NTL Productions of their intent to picket but the company has refused to discuss a contract.

Several shows are planned at The Castle Theatre and Corn Crib stadium this summer with music genres from country to hip-hop.

Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.


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