In Spring 2021, hair and makeup artist at The Atlanta Opera sought to be represented by IATSE Local 798 through an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).

Hoping to win an election and bargain a contract providing the makeup and hair artists with health insurance and retirement benefits similar to what the Musicians, Stagehands, and Costume/Wardrobe workers who work for The Atlanta Opera under union contracts already have.

But The Atlanta Opera tried to prevent the workers from organizing, arguing to the NLRB that the workers are independent contractors without the right to organize and collective bargain. 

NLRB ruled in favor of the artists and granted the workers an election.
The workers voted but those ballots have not yet been counted because The Atlanta Opera has appealed the NLRB Regional Office’s decision with the DC office.
A union member rings a bell at the entrance of the Cobb Energy Center.
Scabby the Rat looms over the shoulder of IATSE Local 798 member Alex Lucas.
Local 798 member Jennifer Bennett greets cast members of the Atlanta Opera Company who came to express support.
Heather is a hair and makeup artist that used to work for the Atlanta Opera and is still heavily involved with the unionization efforts for her fellow artists. We talked about the fact that other departments, like the musician, stagehands and costumers all have union bargained contracts with the Atlanta Opera Company but when the hair and make up artists decided to organize, the company resisted and misclassified them as gig workers even though the nature of their work is similar to those in other departments. Heather explained that the hair and makeup department tends to also be the most diverse and marginalized department in the industry—with many workers identifying as women, LGBT and/or are persons of color. “What does this say about the opera company’s values?” Heather asked in frustration. 
Erin Chaney, a hair and makeup artist and member of IATSE Local 798, stands ready to pass out information about the fight for union representation at the Atlanta Opera.
Members of IATSE Local 834 stop by to show support for Local 798.
IATSE Local 798 member Jennifer Bennett speaks to fellow members.

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