The Huffington Post reports that the knights, squires, players, and stablehands at the Medieval Times restaurant in Lyndhurst, New Jersey will be holding a vote to unionize on July 15, 2022. In addition to wage improvements — most of the eligible Medieval Times staff start at the state minimum wage of $13 an hour — the workers also have some labor gripes specific to their, erm, unique work conditions:
Every two-hour show at Medieval Times requires careful planning and rehearsal. The knights are essentially stuntmen, leaping from horses and smashing wooden lances on one another's shields as they joust. The show includes complex dressage movements, as well as a falconer who handles a bird as it flies through the arena over the crowd. Performers often do two and sometimes three shows a day.
With limited security at the shows, performers are the ones left to enforce boundaries and police the crowd — including when guests reach out to touch the falcon as it flies overhead, endangering the bird and themselves. And workers say the rotating cast of queens is subjected to unwanted touching during pre- and post-show meet-and-greets with fans, especially with so many bachelor parties on the weekends.
The Lyndhurst Medieval Times is unionizing through the American Guild of Variety Artists, which is part of AFL-CIO; according to the Post, the workers have previously tried to organize with Actors' Equity as well as the Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, though neither campaign succeeded.
Naturally, the King, I mean company, is none too pleased with its rowdy peasants, spending upwards of $3200 per day plus expenses on union-busting efforts.
Medieval Times Workers Will Vote On Forming The Company's First Union [Dave Jamieson / Huffington Post]