Workers at Denver's Marquis Theater, Summit Music Hall Win Union Vote | Westword

Stage, Production Workers at Marquis Theater and Summit Music Hall Win Union Election

All Live Nation venues in Denver will be soon operated by unionized workers.
Workers at Marquis Theater also work at Summit Music Hall.
Workers at Marquis Theater also work at Summit Music Hall. Scott Lentz
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Workers at Summit Music Hall and the Marquis Theater in Denver, two popular venues operated by Live Nation Entertainment, voted to unionize in a National Labor Relations Board election held yesterday, June 24.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 7 — the organization through which the workers are unionizing — announced the results today, June 25. Workers will now head into contract negotiations with Live Nation Entertainment, which operates both venues in downtown Denver.

Live Nation is the largest live entertainment company in the United States, and is currently being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations of becoming a monopoly. In 2018, the company took over booking and operations for the Marquis and Summit, where workers say they have been asked to do more work over time without consistent raises or competitive pay.

At the end of May, a majority of the stage crew and production workers at Summit and the Marquis, which totals around thirty employees, asked Live Nation to voluntarily recognize the union, but Live Nation declined. Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment.

When the workers first went public with their intention to unionize, Max Peterson, business representative with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 7, told Westword that workers at these venues struggle to make enough money for it to be worth it to work at the two venues but keep doing so because they love the job.

"A lot of people get in this business because they freaking love music,” Peterson said. “They love going to shows. They love being part of and around the live-music scene, and what we see oftentimes is that these mega-corporations take advantage of that passion and undercut what would normally be a fair shake for these workers.”

The Fillmore Auditorium, the only other venue Live Nation controls in Denver, is already unionized and represented by IATSE.

Employees at the Denver venues had been considering unionization for years, according to Peterson, dating back to before the pandemic in 2020.

Union talks became a reality when employees saw the disparity between their pay and the amount Live Nation’s CEO makes: In 2023, a report showed that the pay ratio for CEO Michael Rapino to the median employee was 5,414 to one (in 2022, Rapino signed a five-year, $109 million contract). At the time, that was the highest ratio among S&P 500 companies that reported the same data.

In the meantime, workers had been asked to do the same amount of work with fewer people, they say. Every employee between the two venues works at Summit, but Peterson says the Marquis often only has one person doing the work of an entire crew, so not every employee has shifts there.

“The ultimate goal is not to just win an election for a union,” Peterson said before the election. “The ultimate goal is to get a first contract and get these folks under a contract that works for them, [one that] solves the problems that they're experiencing in their workplace so that they can live safely with dignity and look at a future that's going to work for them."

Lack of breaks, including meals during shifts that last over eight hours, and low wages were among the top issues identified by workers before the union vote. Employees are also hoping to negotiate for hourly minimums in their contract, to ensure that they will have an idea of what they’ll be taking home for a day’s work, among other labor-related topics.

"When workers stand together, we win! We look forward to sitting down with Live Nation to negotiate a contract that can provide safety, security, and a better quality of life for these skilled and dedicated stagehands and technicians," Peterson says in a statement announcing the successful unionizations.
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