IATSE Local 906 celebrates the anniversary this month
When the first Canadian tour of the musical Anne of Green Gables was to take place in 1967, Confederation Centre stagehands, including department heads, who had been mounting the show since 1964 in Charlottetetown, had to travel incognito as “advisors.”
They had union status as members of the Sydney, Nova Scotia Local, but they lacked (by one month) the 2-year membership requirement to allow them to work in the unionized halls where Anne was headed.
Upon their return from the tour the Charlottetown crew, with management’s blessing, applied to form their own local in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Operators of the United States and Canada. And in April 1968, IATSE Local 906 received its charter.
Long-time union carpenter at the Centre, Paul Smitz, says that the bosses at the Centre, including founding artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival, Mavor Moore, were very much in support of the formation of the union. “They understood they had to hire professional stagehands.”
“They [management] fought for it,” says Roddy Diamond, who retired from his position as Master of Properties at the end of 2011 after 48 years of service. Roddy’s signature as one of the charter members can be seen on the original IATSE document that hangs on the wall of the crew’s quarters in the Centre.
Another recent retiree is Ricky Warren who also had over 40 years of service, including the job of Head Carpenter. He recounts that in the early years he was fired three times by his boss, Jack McAndrew. But always hired back. Ricky is compiling a commemorative book on the history of the IATSE Local 906 that will be given to members at the anniversary celebration on April 8.