Medieval Times Union Wins Vote At California Castle
The union campaign at Medieval Times has breached the walls of a second castle.
Workers at the company’s Buena Park, California, location voted 27 to 18 in favor of joining the American Guild of Variety Artists on Thursday, according to a union spokesperson. The union will represent the knights, squires, stablehands and cast who put on the Texas-based chain’s famous dinner-theater shows.
Workers at a different castle in northern New Jersey formed Medieval Times’ first union this summer, prompting the workers in California to start signing union cards. The company has nine castles in the U.S. and one in Canada.
The National Labor Relations Board has not yet certified the results of the latest election, and the company has a week to file any objections to the count.
In a statement, the union called the vote an “important step to ensure a fairer and safer work environment, with appropriate living wages.” Medieval Times could not immediately be reached for comment.
The union’s success at Medieval Times comes amid a wave of new organizing at U.S. companies, much of it driven by workers’ frustrations over pay and safety during the pandemic. The NLRB has reported a significant uptick in workers seeking elections, with the number of union petitions recently hitting a 5-year high. Employers such as Amazon, Starbucks, Apple and Trader Joe’s have all seen a share of their U.S. workforce unionize for the first time.
Medieval Times workers in both New Jersey and California previously told HuffPost that they felt underpaid for their work and wanted the chain to make improvements on safety and security, citing injuries during shows and rehearsals and insufficient crowd control.
They said they hoped a union could give them a voice on the job and help boost wages at the company, with several saying they started out near the minimum wage in their respective states.
“We love what we do,” Erin Zapcic, one of the castle’s queens, told HuffPost in July. “Most times people only move on when they feel like they have to. They want to start a family or buy a house. You shouldn’t have to leave a job you love because you can’t afford to keep it anymore.”
Medieval Times has opposed the union campaign, calling the union a “third party” and suggesting the workers may never secure a first contract. After the New Jersey castle unionized, the company informed workers at other locations that they would be receiving a raise.
The company even filed a lawsuit against its workers’ new union, accusing it of copyright infringement because workers had adopted the name “Medieval Times Performers United.” The union called the litigation “unlawful thuggery” and filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB, arguing the lawsuit amounted to illegal intimidation.