Union, Dept. of Labor reach deal on fair stage collapse - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Union, Dept. of Labor reach deal on Indiana State Fair stage collapse

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INDIANAPOLIS -

13 Investigates has learned that the Indiana Department of Labor has struck a deal with the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 30. Under the newly inked deal, Local 30 will not accept any responsibility for the stage rigging collapse in August 2011.

Within 30 seconds of a 52-mph wind blast, the stage rigging at the Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair was in a free fall. The Jersey barriers set up as supports failed. There was no cross bracing.

The Department of Labor said Local 30 workers also failed to adequately anchor the rigging and the State of Indiana leveled an $11,000 fine against the union.

Under the deal, the union will not have to pay the fine.

"It's a big burden lifted, for the union to just settle this in a peaceful manner because we're dedicated to workers' safety. We want everybody to be able to go to work, do their job and go home to their families," said John Baldwin, Business Manager, IATSE.

The state initially argued the workers who erected the stage were employees of the union and not the State Fair Commission. Our cameras were on hand to capture exclusive video when labor investigators served warrants on the union seeking wage and training documents to prove it.

But now, two years later, the state has backed off its stance. Local 30 was not the determined employer and therefore not subject to the same workplace guidelines enforced by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"The preponderance of the information now suggests to us that they were probably not acting as an employer," Bob Dittmer, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Labor.

Local 30 members must undergo more training for "fall safety protection" and stage rigging. 13 Investigates has learned Local 30 will take part in the state's INSAFE program, an off-shoot of IOSHA. The organization provides safety training free of charge.

Safety training for existing members will be completed by March 15, 2014 and the training will be integrated into the training for apprentices by January 15, 2014.

"This is going to train the guy on the ground, the gal on the ground to look for safety hazards," said Dittmer.

See the agreement here.

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