Denver inks $30 million stagehands contract for Red Rocks, other venues despite wage-theft concerns raised by union

The Denver City Council has approved a $30 million contract with ASM Global to manage stagehand staffing at Red Rocks and other city venues after discussing concerns about the company’s compliance with city wage laws.

That unanimous vote was taken Monday after some council members warned that they planned to keep an eye on ASM and other city contractors to ensure those companies adhere to local wage rules.

Councilwoman Sarah Parady, a labor attorney, postponed a final vote on the contract at the council’s April 22 meeting and then called it out for comments before the final vote. She said members of the labor union International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, had reached out to her to raise concerns about past wage disputes with ASM.

IATSE provides much of the stagehand staffing at city venues and is preparing to negotiate a new contract with ASM Global later this year, union leaders told The Denver Post.

“I am grateful to members of IATSE for bringing to our attention some wage disputes they have had with this city contractor,” Parady said, without going into further detail. “I am a yes tonight following the lead of the union.”

The $30 million contract is backdated to Jan. 1 and runs through Dec. 31, 2026, according to a city summary. There are two options for one-year extensions.

The deal covers all stagehand staffing and associated supervision, consulting and payroll administration for Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Denver Coliseum, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and other city-owned venues. The city expects to recoup a vast majority of the contract — 90%, give or take — by charging venue users for the services ASM provides, the summary says.

ASM was the incumbent stagehand contractor. The company also holds a separate $250 million contract to manage all aspects of the Colorado Convention Center through 2033.

Labor concerns — specifically wage theft — were front and center at Monday’s council meeting.

The council also unanimously approved a measure that granted limited subpoena powers to the Denver Auditor’s Office. Denver Labor, its arm that investigates wage-theft claims, now has the legal authority to demand timecards and other records that employers have refused to provide during investigations. Third-party hearing officers will now rule on disputed data requests.

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ASM Global and its relationship with IATSE came under the microscope during a meeting of the council’s Business, Arts, Workforce, Climate & Aviation Services Committee earlier this month.

Committee chair Chris Hinds suggested that city contractors with “a history of acrimonious relationships” with labor unions should be held to higher standards when city leaders consider contract bids. Denver Arts & Venues executive director Gretchen Hollrah told council members that she inserted language in the ASM contract giving the city the power to compel the company and its union workforce to come together for dialogue when disputes arise.

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