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Knights, squires, queens go on strike at California Medieval Times

<i>Brett Banditelli</i><br/>Striking Medieval Times workers form a picket line Saturday
Brett Banditelli
Striking Medieval Times workers form a picket line Saturday

By Ramishah Maruf, CNN

Workers at a Southern California Medieval Times have walked off the job and went on strike before their second performance of the day Saturday, the union confirmed.

About 25 of the 50 workers in their bargaining unit walked out at the Buena Park location, said Erin Zapcic, lead organizer of Medieval Times Performers United.

“We’ll be out picketing basically every day for the foreseeable future until we can make some kind of meaningful progress with the company,” Zapcic said, who plays the Queen in the California shows.

Medieval Times LLC has not responded to numerous requests for comment.

The show’s cast of knights, squires, and stable hands voted to unionize, 27-18, last November and join the American Guild of Variety Artists.

“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 November statement.

Zapcic said people work at Medieval Times because they love it, not for the money. But since reopening after COVID, staffing levels were so short, workers were 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.”

The strike is affecting performances at the location. Zapcic said the company is pulling performers from other departments and non-unionized locations. The closest location to California is in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The union has filed numerous unfair labor practice charges against the company both in California and New Jersey, including one on their TikTok account getting banned.

In October, Medieval Times filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the union for using the company name, which is still ongoing.

“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 in a statement in October.

Much of the union’s support came from social media, especially on TikTok. The union’s last post on TikTok was advocating for fair wages.

Zapcic believes the company had reported the account to be banned for violating TikTok’s intellectual property policy. A screenshot shared with CNN showed CEO Perico Montaner reported the union’s Facebook account for trademark infringement.

The union has been in wage negotiations with management since December.

“They had our account banned, and we have to take this,” Zapcic said. “We have to start yelling even louder.”

About 40 performers, including knights, squires, trumpeters and a falconer, succeeded in a union vote at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey, location last July.

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CNN’s Natasha Chen contributed to this story.

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