Workers at Medieval Times in Buena Park, California walked out before their second performance. This particular location’s cast voted to unionize in November of 2022, joining the American Guild of Variety Artists. On February 11th, almost half the workers in their bargaining unit walked out on the show.
“We’ll be out picketing basically every day for the foreseeable future until we can make some kind of meaningful progress with the company,” says Erin Zapcic, lead organizer of Medieval Times Performers United, said. She also fittingly plays the Queen in the shows.
The workers are striking against Medieval Times due to unfair labor practices. Since reopening after COVID-19 lockdowns, they have been consistently short-staffed. Some workers are performing six days a week. “They love to tell us that we’re not Broadway and it’s absolutely correct,” Zapcic said. “Broadway does eight shows a week. We do anywhere from 16 to 21.” Broadway is probably better compensated too since the union has also been in wage negotiations since December.
“By bringing the Performers and Stable Hands at Medieval Times, Buena Park, CA to the ‘table,’ we will collaboratively negotiate a fair Collective Bargaining Agreement which ensures that wages are commensurate with skills, improves safety protocols (and enforces them) and brings about a respectful working environment,” the union said in a statement.
In the meantime, the Buena Park Medieval Times is pulling performers from other departments, and non-unionized locations. The closest of these being Scottsdale, Arizona.
The union has already filed several unfair labor practice charges against the company in both California and New Jersey. The Lyndhurst, NJ location voted to unionize in July 2022. One of these complaints even involved the company getting the union’s TikTok account banned. Medieval Times filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the union in October for using their logos on social media. That particular case is still in the courts.
“It is a grotesque attempt to retaliate against workers for exercising their legally protected right to form a union and bargain collectively,” Medieval Times Performers United and the American Guild of Variety Artists said.
The theory behind this maneuver is so much grassroots support for the union came from social media. Medieval Times may believe cutting off this public support will cause the case to go away. “They had our account banned, and we have to take this,” said Zapcic. “We have to start yelling even louder.”