Union workers petition for BottleRock arbitration

Laborers claim $630,000 in unpaid wages from music festival
2013-09-05T16:51:00Z 2014-05-01T14:35:14Z Union workers petition for BottleRock arbitrationJENNIFER HUFFMAN Napa Valley Register
September 05, 2013 4:51 pm  • 

The union that supplied workers for Napa’s BottleRock festival has asked Napa County Superior Court to force festival organizers to begin arbitration over $630,000 in unpaid wages, stating they have acted in “bad faith” for refusing to begin negotiating payment of those wages.

According to court documents, filed Aug. 27, approximately 142 members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union Local 16 worked between April 30 and May 15 for the five-day music festival at the Napa Valley Expo.

When the workers weren’t paid, the union filed a grievance against music festival organizers Bob Vogt and Gabe Meyers of Napa.

On June 14, the union sent letters to Vogt and Meyers asking them to begin arbitration. According to documents, festival organizers “continue to refuse” to begin arbitration.

The original working agreement, which called for supplying workers to the 2013 BottleRock and future festivals through 2017, notes that union workers were to be paid between $34.56 and $44.25 per hour. Both Vogt and Meyers signed the agreement, which was dated April 1.

“The employer has no … basis for refusing to arbitrate,” the court documents state. “Such refusal … is calculated to delay an amicable resolution of a legitimate labor dispute.”

The union is just one of dozens of BottleRock vendors who are still owed money from the music festival. BottleRock’s publicly known debt is over $2.5 million, including hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to transportation companies, security vendors, the city of Napa and the Expo.

While the music festival, held May 8 to 13, was a hit with music lovers, organizers have been beset with financial difficulties, including unpaid invoices and four lawsuits for breach of contract.

As much as $1 million in promised donations to a group of nonprofits remains unpaid.

In early August, Live Nation, the nation’s largest event promoter, ignited hope that it would either acquire or invest in the financially troubled festival. However, no agreement with Live Nation has yet to be announced.

Vogt and Meyers are also engaged in a financial dispute with CP Cooks, the organization that managed the food and beverage operation at the festival.

Vogt and Meyers did not reply to requests for comment Thursday afternoon. Nor did Jim Beaumonte, president of Local 16 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or a spokesperson for Live Nation.

Pre-sale tickets for an announced 2014 BottleRock festival remain on sale on the BottleRock website.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. skeptic
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    skeptic - September 05, 2013 7:14 pm
    wow. no comments from any side ? what gives ? one would think the various parties would like to make a public comment on the situation.
  2. glenroy
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    glenroy - September 06, 2013 7:00 am
    Maybe those union members should tell their union Brass Hats to cut back on the hundreds of millions spent on politcs and give it back to the rank and file...it's their money.

    It's a waste of money to go down this path....more for the 'cause' and 'attention'....
  3. napa1957
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    napa1957 - September 06, 2013 12:33 pm
    Wow...that's a nice hourly wage for putting up scaffolding etc. Must be more to it than it appears! Don't think there is any "blood" in this "turnip"....good luck Union!
  4. MzPoppy
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    MzPoppy - September 06, 2013 3:45 pm
    It's pretty rich that the organizers signed the working agreement on April Fool's Day.
  5. Old Time Napkin
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    Old Time Napkin - September 07, 2013 7:34 am
    I wonder why the workers have not gone to the State of California Labor Commission? Don't they take on cases such as this one? Something doesn't sound right here.
  6. Unionrabblerowser
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    Unionrabblerowser - September 11, 2013 1:46 pm
    Napa 1957 - that's a minimal wage for someone required to have the knowledge of safe loads for stages, lighting, electrical,etc. They aren't putting up scaffolding, they're setting up a highly dangerous large structure. Do you want carnies to set up the 8 story high structure 5 feet in front of your family? Perhaps the families of the singer Curtis Mayfield, paralyzed by a theatrical light falling on him, or the families of the Indiana State Fair victims where the stage collapsed on the fans, would have a different idea! My husband went to college PLUS 2 years of serious training in all aspects of theater & SAFETY to become a journeyman and make these wages. Perhaps you remember the first Outside Lands show where they used extremely minimal union employee. The one where Tom Petty's Sound blew 3 times because the carnies used construction generators for powering the festival? ANYONE CAN SET UP SCAFFOLDING BUT UNION MEMBERS ARE TRAINED TO DO IT SAFELY!
  7. Unionrabblerowser
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    Unionrabblerowser - September 11, 2013 1:49 pm
    Some have...Some were told by the Santa Rosa office not to, illegally. When my hubby's first court hearing happened, the court was unable to serve BottleRock as they couldn't find a proper address for them...Interestingly
  8. Rigrider
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    Rigrider - September 12, 2013 12:27 pm
    Yes it is a good wage for highly trained technicians. The point here however is not what the contracted wage is but rather the fact that they were not paid anything for their labor.Many came from out of town and booked hotel rooms. They not only did not get paid but they came out of pocket. They can't go to the hotel and not pay without being charged as criminals yet the promoters of this can continue to do business both by selling tickets for the 2014 festival but also at the Uptown Theatre. Meanwhile the stagehands who worked 17 days are having to pay late fees to their landlords or mortgage holders, trying to figure out how to buy gas to get to work. wondering where they are going to get the money to buy food. The promoters knew what their wages would be, they signed the agreement. Oh by the way, the Labor Commissioner Deputy in Santa Rosa (somehow Napa is in their jurisdiction) has told them all that can possibly be done is a settlement at minimum wage.
  9. Rigrider
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    Rigrider - September 12, 2013 12:30 pm
    Maybe those promoters should pay the wages they agreed to, it's the workers money!
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