Online petition started for Super Bowl stagehands
The NFL says for the first time in Super Bowl history, online protestors are calling for minimum wage and insurance protection for hundreds of halftime volunteers.
The online petition calls for the NFL "to offer 500 halftime workers at the Indianapolis Super Bowl minimum wage and protection if they are injured on the job," setting up Madonna's stage.
"The NFL should be held responsible and provide them with an assurance that they will take care of them in the even they were hurt or injured. It's a real risk, because in 2010, there were four volunteers who were injured when part of the stage collapsed on them," said Tim Newman, senior organizer of Change.org.
NFL Spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed a portion of the stage at the halftime show during the Colts-Saints Super Bowl tipped. He says enlisting volunteers to wheel out the stage has been a Super Bowl tradition for 45 years. The Indianapolis union providing the stagehands says there's little danger.
"Yeah, this happens in the dark, so yes, it is semi-dangerous and I say, yes, accidents will happen. There'll be fingers pinched and things like that, but nothing dramatic will happen," said John Baldwin, business agent for Local 30 of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees.
The IATSE is the same union embroiled in the State Fair stage collapse. Baldwin allowed 13 Investigates a rare interview to set the record straight, starting with who's building the stage.
"We're bringing in IA members from all around the country," Baldwin said.
The actual drawings for the stage are being closely guarded by the NFL. But next Monday, crews will begin building the scaffolding off-site at the University of Indianapolis.
"The actual rig itself will be done in Lucas (Oil Stadium). The set carts and the stage, which will be assembled and built from the ground up, will be built on wheels, so they can roll it into place," Baldwin said.
Once local inspections are complete, more than 40 hours of rehearsal will follow to choreograph the massive stage move. Volunteers will have just 7-8 minutes to roll it into place.
As for pay, Baldwin says, "They will be in the middle of the halftime show. They will be right there, surrounding the stage when Madonna's on the stage. So that's their payback for it."
Theatrical Resources out of New York has the NFL contract for the construction of the stage. Baldwin says the company has been in charge of the Super Bowl halftime show for years and for the last two months, lighting and sound companies have been meeting with choreographers to ensure Madonna's performance will go as planned.
The NFL told 13 Investigates Monday they do have a worker's compensation program in place.