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Shakespeare Festival Workers Vote To Form Union

Stagehands and other backstage workers at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival have voted to form a union.

Sixty-eight workers cast ballots in Wednesday's voting. Thirty-seven voted in favor and 25 voted against forming a union. Six votes were contested. OSF managers have not said if they will appeal the vote.

Workers who were interested in organizing said they were concerned about recent restructuring of some production jobs, from full-time to hourly status, among other changes.

"Our administration is great and they have an open door policy from the top down, but that still doesn't translate into the power to negotiate your working terms as an individual or as a group," said Courtney Cunningham, a wardrobe assistant in her fourth season at OSF.

Communication manager Amy Richard said no decision has been made about whether to contest the process. OSF managers have 14 days after the election is certified to request a hearing defining the bargaining unit. Richard said the process of forming a bargaining unit and drafting a collective bargaining agreement would be a long one. She declined to speculate on how the vote might affect festival operations.

In the past, OSF managers have said they don't believe it's in the best interest of the production area to have a union, and that solutions can be accomplished by employees dealing directly with managers.

Little may change immediately, as the formation of the group and its bargaining agreement will take months. The new group will be a chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

<p>&nbsp;The National Labor Relations Board oversaw Wednesday's election in Ashland.</p>

Aaron Scott

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 The National Labor Relations Board oversaw Wednesday's election in Ashland.

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

April Baer