Medieval Times workers have won the vote to form the first union in the company’s history

Medieval Times workers have won the vote to form the first union in the company’s history

New Jersey’s Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament performers have voted to form the first union in the company’s 40-year history.

Knights, squires, stunt performers and stable hands who put together nightly shows at the medieval-themed theater and restaurant took part in the turnout at the Lyndhurst location’s Castle Tower on Friday evening. A total of 26 workers voted in favor of joining the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) and 11 against.

The union drive was launched by workers after years of unsuccessful efforts to address low pay, staffing and safety issues with management. This succeeded despite a week-long campaign by the company to prevent workers from voting.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but I’m confident we’re going to make this environment better,” said Anthony Sanchez, a knight who has worked at Lyndhurst’s Medieval Times for nearly eight years. freedom After the vote.

The Medieval Times Performers United Union thanked the public for the “outpouring of support” in a statement.

“We look forward to working with management to create a beautiful, safe, and more enjoyable medieval period. Together, we will create a workplace that allows us to thrive while doing what we love,” the statement said.

The effort by New Jersey’s Medieval Times comes amid a wave of unionization drives across the country, driven by changes in how people view their relationships with their employers as a result of the pandemic. Union petitions rose 69 percent in the first half of this year, the most since 2015.

Workers at both Starbucks and the nation’s second-largest employer, Amazon, unionized for the first time this year the president Joe Biden Declaring himself “the most pro-union president in the history of the United States”, he supported both efforts of organized labor in general. Meanwhile, public approval of labor unions is at an all-time high Since the 1960s.

Before the vote, the staff of Medieval Times said freedom Companies that ignore their concerns about safety and requests for better pay often give them the impression that they are replaceable. They said complaints that customers harassed and sexually assaulted employees during segments of the show were not taken seriously by the company.

“We’ve tried to address issues of harassment and sexual assault with counseling,” Zaire Wood said freedom before the vote. Wood has worked at the Medieval Times for four years — first as a squire and now as a knight.

“At least once a month a drunken guest can be very comfortable and confronted but cannot be kicked out. We felt the consequences did not match the crime,” he said. “There was no way to communicate [these concerns] It’s a situation where employees don’t feel like they’re being looked after, other than feeling uncomfortable.”

A job at Medieval Times brings a certain amount of prestige and even local fame, which seeks them out. Some knights were even found Viral fame on TikTok. But workers say the company took advantage of their passion for the job and used that prestige as an argument against raising pay. Concerns about crowd control became more important during the pandemic, when workers had to worry about getting sick in addition to everything else. Inadequate staffing has left workers feeling overworked and burned out, which they say compromises their safety both in the field and in the stables.

Founded in 1983, Medieval Times employs more than 2,000 people in nine locations across the United States. On a typical night, patrons don paper crowns as they take their seats in a huge arena to watch a choreographed live action show where knights battle knights with swords and lances. The show cast both actors and stunt people, performing ambitious leaps and acrobatics. The storyline changes every 4-5 years, and the current show, which has been running since 2017, is about a queen and a misogynistic villainous knight.

During the show, visitors feast on medieval-themed dishes such as fried chicken and corn, without utensils — to be historically accurate (although the company also offers an array of food options for “vegetarians, vegetarians or gluten-free, as ordered by the Queen”).

The Medieval Times was accused by workers of engaging in union-busting in response to the drive. The company has hired a “labor consultant” who represents companies that want to avoid unionization efforts Workers said the consultant described himself as a “labor educator” and approached them hoping to change their minds. He is being paid $3,200 a day plus expenses for his trouble, according to one Documents viewed by freedom– an amount that further angered Medieval Times staff who had repeatedly refused requests for better pay.

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