Medieval workers in New Jersey formed the company’s first union

Medieval Times workers formed the dining theater chain’s first union by holding collective bargaining at a castle in northern New Jersey.

Knights, squires, show actors and grooms at the Lyndhurst location voted 26 to 11. in favor of joining American Guild of Entertainers According to the union, after the votes were counted on Friday evening. The National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the election, has yet to confirm the results.

In a Friday statement, the workers said they were grateful for the “outpouring of support” they have received from the public and the guidance they have received from the union.

“We look forward to working with management to create a fairer, safer and more enjoyable medieval life,” they said. “Together we will create a workplace that allows us to thrive doing the work we love.”

As HuffPost reported last month, Medieval Times workers in New Jersey banded together to improve their pay and working conditions. special attention to safety. Medieval-themed shows include horseback riding and other dangerous stunts, all in front of an unpredictable and sometimes noisy crowd.

Employees told HuffPost they deserve better pay for their jobs — grooms and actors often start at the state’s minimum wage of $13 an hour — as well as more security to help keep audiences in check. Some workers at the castle were members of other unions in the entertainment industry and want to have the same voice in the Medieval Times.

“Our situation at the castle has gotten pretty dire,” one worker told HuffPost. “Something must be done.”

The Medieval Times, which did not respond to interview requests, spoke out against the organizational effort. The company hired a union prevention consultant who held meetings at the castle with workers outside $3200 per day, plus expenses.

The union in Lyndhurst will include about 40 workers, most of whom perform shows or work in the stables, where the castle keeps about two dozen horses. American Guild of Entertainers represents workers from other theaters and touring shows, including the Rockettes and performers at Disneyland.

“Our situation in the castle has become quite dire.”

– Medieval Worker

Medieval Times workers often put on two or three two-hour shows a day and must rehearse regularly to stay safe. Knights imitate combat in heavy equipment, break spears while riding and jump on horseback, while grooms and squires control horses that can delight the crowd. The Queen and other actors run the show and often have to keep the crowd under control while staying in character.

Workers often complain that the company acts as if this highly atypical job is a normal 9 to 5 job.

“They treat a lot of professionally trained actors like anyone can do the job,” Pernell Thompson, a groom and unionist, previously told HuffPost. “They treat a lot of grooms like we’re completely replaceable and consider it an entry-level job. I worked in the entry level animal care industry. That’s not it.”

The Medieval Times campaign is part of this year’s wave of union organizing at prominent companies, including Amazon, Starbucks, REI and Apple. Like the Medieval Times, all four of these employers have seen workers unionize for the first time in recent months, fueled by tight labor markets and job frustrations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lyndhurst Castle may not be the last alliance of the Middle Ages. The Texas-based store chain has eight more locations in the US and one in Canada.