Union: Fair stagehands were state employees

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INDIANAPOLIS - The union that provided the labor to build the stage that collapsed at the Indiana State Fair last month says those riggers and stagehands were also employees of the state.

The Indiana State Fair Commission is already under investigation for not alerting concert goers to a severe thunderstorm warning the night the stage collapsed at the fairgrounds, killing seven people.

On the job, Glenn Goodrich and Nathan Byrd died when the stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair collapsed, leveling a crushing blow. Indiana's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating whether their employers failed to protect them.

ESG Security must answer for Goodrich, but 13 Investigates has learned the State of Indiana could be forced to answer for Byrd, a union stagehand.

Even though the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30 provided all labor for stage rigging, lights and audio for the concert. Its attorney says Byrd was an employee of the State Fair Commission.

In email correspondence, Bill Groth, the attorney for Local 30, told 13 Investigates it simply referred workers with certain training and skills to Andre Lacy, Cindy Hoye and the commission.

"The agreement throughout refers to the workers whom Local 30 refers as 'employees,' but they are employees of the commission, not the union," Groth wrote. "While those workers are performing functions at the State Fairgrounds, they are paid by the State Fair Commission and are doing so at the direction and under the supervision of Mid-America."

Friday, Andre Lacy said outside investigators had interviewed 111 State Fair employees, but stopped short of revealing whether any of those interviewed were stagehands or stage riggers.

"Witt has also interviewed non-governmental employees involved in the August 13 grandstand production," he said.

Now, it appears the State of Indiana will not only have to answer for failing to alert concert goers to a severe thunderstorm warning before the collapse, but based on the Union's position, the commission could have to answer for the union employees it paid to put up the stage rigging.

It also means, despite its efforts, the state, under IOSHA, will have to investigate another state agency.

In response to the union's assertion that the stagehands and riggers were state employees, the Department of Labor issued the following statement:

"To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation...no information regarding the investigation will be released until the entire report is presented publicly. This includes any detailed employment information."

Under the agreement, the commission agreed to pay wages and benefits to the union workers including Local 30's welfare and pension funds and its payroll service fees.