Medieval working conditions provoke strike
Buena Park, CA – Workers at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, represented by the American Guild of Variety Artists, walked off the job on February 11 after the company filed a lawsuit against the union for trademark infringement due to their local’s name, Medieval Times Performers United. This is one of the many ways the company has retaliated against and attempted to silence the workers who have now, as of April 27, been on strike for 75 days.
At the picket line, show attendees are greeted by the sound of drums and the striking workers asking them to get a refund rather than crossing the picket line; cheers follow the many successful refund requests.
More than half of the performers at the Buena Park castle make less than $20 per hour. Shaun Carmer stated that he has been working for the company for 15 years as a trumpeter and only makes $16 per hour. The company has kept the show going by bringing in temporary performers from out of state. Medieval Times is demonstrating their capability to pay their workers more by paying the scabs an estimated $1000 per week more, when considering hotel accommodations and per diem allowance.
The top three demands from the workers are a 30% increase in wages, improved healthcare, and an end to the mistreatment of the horses. The abuse of horses can make them unpredictable and unsafe to work with, resulting in more injuries for the workers who then cannot get proper treatment through their worker’s compensation program. At times they’ve been offered ice and ibuprofen for broken bones. Jake Bowman, a knight and strike captain said, “If we’re the product, if we’re the show, then you would think that more effort would be put into making sure that the show is safer so that we have less injuries and making sure that when people do get injured, they are well taken care of.”
Striking workers can be supported by donating on their GoFundMe, showing up to the picket lines, and spreading the word across Orange County. Updated picket line schedules can be found on their Instagram and Twitter pages @mtunitedca.