The hall's manager said the position is not new and won't take away work from union members.
By AMANDA C. DAVIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A member of the union covering stagehands at W.D. Packard Music Hall is taking issue with a coordinator position the city is trying to fill, saying it infringes on duties the union already performs.
David Flasck, a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 132, said the union is going to send a letter objecting to the city's intention to fill the position.
"Why should the taxpayers of Warren be asked to pay for John and Mary's wedding," Flasck questioned.
Stagehands are not paid with public funds to help set up and tear down at events that include musicals, concerts, plays and weddings; their money comes from the organizations renting the municipal hall.
"This is not a new position," hall manager Chris Stephenson said. "We're not doing anything that's going to take work away from anyone."
Gary Cicero, the city's personnel director, said two positions for full-time maintenance workers have been vacant since the city issued layoffs and other cuts to ward off a budget shortfall in 2000.
The city posted one of the two unfilled jobs for members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 74, but no one bid on the job, Cicero said.
The city has now changed the job description of one of the positions and posted it as "auditorium technical coordinator," to make $13.99 an hour.
Cicero said there has been no change in pay.
What's involved: The coordinator will oversee stagehands and must be familiar with their work, but won't be doing any of their work, Cicero said.
The job description includes scheduling, assisting in setup, maintenance and inventory of equipment and some semiskilled maintenance and housekeeping work. It does not say which union, if any, will represent the coordinator.
A bachelor's degree in theater or three to five years' experience is preferred, and examples of work listed on the posting include snow removal on sidewalks, cleaning windows and restrooms, setting up risers, tables and chairs, mopping floors and overseeing sound and lighting systems.
AFSCME president Lee DeJacimo said the union is in the process of filing a grievance with the city over the matter because AFSCME did not sign off on the change in job title or description and was never consulted about it.
The union should be asked for its input, DeJacimo said, and explained AFSCME does not want to step on IATSE's toes or take its work.
Tom Baron, business agent for IATSE, said he wants to meet with Stephenson and an AFSCME representative to learn more.
Councilman Bob Marchese, D-at large, said the city never mentioned the need to fill the position.
"It comes as a complete surprise to me," he said. "I don't see where they need another employee."
This year's funding: Nancy Ruggieri, the city's deputy auditor, said Stephenson asked for funding this year for five positions, including himself, assistant manager Cheri Celedonia and three maintenance workers.
The city instead granted enough money for Stephenson, Celedonia and one maintenance worker, and the budget still has about another $30,000 set aside that could be used for a fourth position, Ruggieri said.
The city cut its subsidy to the hall in 2000 during budget cuts, giving $75,000. It kicked in $267,500 in 2001 and agreed to $250,000 this year when the hall came up with a plan to become self-sufficient.
Plans include renovations, the creation of a box office and the addition of a food service and liquor license.
Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, said filling the position was never discussed when the hall gave its presentation to show it can run without the city's help.
If the extra help is needed, Novak said, the music hall should come to council and justify it.
The hall has been short-staffed and needs help if it's expected to pull off initiatives aimed at making it self-sufficient, Stephenson said.