Blazers workers left out in the cold

Members of IATSE Local 28 are holding solidarity actions at Portland Trailblazer home games at the Moda Center because union crews that typically work those games have been replaced with non-union workers. The Moda Center is part of The Rose Quarter, which is owned by an affiliate of the Portland Trail Blazers and managed by Rip City Management. It also includes Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

IATSE Local 28 members have worked Blazer games since the Rose Quarter opened in 1995, and even before that when they played at Memorial Coliseum. They run sound boards, lighting, score boards, time clocks, and other technical equipment. [Other game day employees—including food service workers, ticket takers, and parking attendants—belong to different unions.]

Because of coronavirus restrictions no fans are allowed at NBA games right now, so it’s not surprising that many employees weren’t called back to work. But many of the IATSE jobs are necessary whether fans are there or not.

IATSE Local 28 has been one of the hardest hit unions in the state since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with nearly 99% of their members still unemployed.

“Imagine how you would feel if you’ve been out of work for nine months and you see the NBA announcement that live games are going to happen in your city and there’s work before Christmas—and you don’t get called in to work!” said Local 28 Business Representative Rose Etta Venetucci. “It’s devastating for our members.”

Venetucci said Rip City Management told her IATSE members wouldn’t be needed this season.

“We found out that our jobs were being reassigned to Rip City staff, which are salaried positions and not represented by a union,” she said.

Members of several other unions turned out on opening night Dec. 23 in a show of solidarity with IATSE.

“It’s the Blazers’ first home game, and they’re without some of their most important players,” said one person holding a sign.


[HELP: IATSE Local 28 members have been almost totally out of work since March. Contribute to the union’s relief and hardship fund here.]

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