Unions are wall-to-wall at Keller Auditorium


Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers recently joined the American Guild of Union Artists, AFL-CIO.

By Mike Gutwig

Thomas Phelps, a longtime member of IATSE Local B-20, works the stage door. Thomas also works as a ticket seller at the Oregon Convention Center and the Expo Center, where he is a steward.

With the recent unionization of dancers at the Oregon Ballet Theatre, their shows at Keller Auditorium are now executed by an all-union workforce. Ballet dancers and two stage managers are members of the American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO. The backstage crew — carpenters, electricians, flymen, spotlighters, props, wardrobe, and stage door — are members of IATSE Locals 28 and B-20. Engineering and custodial are represented by Operating Engineers Local 701. The orchestra is comprised of members of Musicians Local 99. Bartenders and food service workers are with UNITE HERE Local 8. And security guards have a contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The Labor Press got a tour of Keller Auditorium Oct. 4 for the first technical rehearsal of the Oregon Ballet Theatre’s world premiere of Rhapsody in Blue.

Shows were held Oct. 7-14, but the work actually began on Sunday, Sept. 29, with a “load-in” by a crew of 43 members dispatched by IATSE Local 28. When the ballet series ended on Oct. 14, another crew of more than 40 IATSE members spent the night taking it all down.

Janna Auslam, an electrician and member of IATSE 28, focuses a spotlight on the Keller Auditorium stage as ballet dancers take part in their first technical rehearsal for Rhapsody in Blue.

Keller Auditorium is part of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, which includes Winningstad Theatre, Newmark Theatre, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, and Brunish Theatre.

Rose Etta Venetucci, business representative of IATSE Local 28, checks out the rehearsal schedule.


  1. The Front House Admissions staff consisting of ushers, gate attendants, leads, coat check, elevator operators and ticket sellers are proud members of IATSE Local B20 Theatre Employes at the Portland ‘5 Venues, The Keller, Arlene Schnitzer concert hall and the Newmark, Oregon Convention Center and expo Center ticket sellers


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