The vassals have taken some power back from the lords!
As reported by Gothamist on Friday, the performers at Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, New Jersey (a short royal carriage ride from New York City) have joined the American Guild of Variety Artists. The knights, trumpeters, stablehands, and jesters at this location are the first to unionize. The joust-happy, eat-with-your-hands dinner theater has ten locations in the U.S. and one outpost across the border in the icy realm known as Ontario.
“We are excited to have won our union, and grateful for the solidarity shown by our coworkers,” a representative from this newly forged fellowship told Gothamist, which reported that hard-working knights begin work at minimum wage, and work years to rise to $20 an hour. All involved directly in the show’s production are now part of the collective bargaining unit. Alas, the wenches and other wait staff are not included.
No word on if the new members will pay dues or doths.
The New York Times reported that worker safety was a significant factor in organizing. A performer who plays the part of The Queen told the newspaper that management made her feel like a “diva” for requesting security protocols against “increasingly bold behavior” from patrons who may have quaffed too many rum-and-mango-laced Dragon Slayers. Performers also cited worry of being around animals, who can sometimes get spooked by rowdy visitors.
Medieval Times’s CEO Perico Montane, safely ensconced behind his moat with advisors at his call, sent a harsh memo to staff that read, “let us be clear about what these employees ‘won’ today. They ‘won’ the privilege of a third party sitting across the table from the company and asking for things. The law is very clear; a company must negotiate in good faith—which we will do—but a company is not required to agree to any proposal that it does not believe is in the company’s best interest—which we won’t.”
He concluded, “ask yourselves, can you really know what the Lyndhurst, New Jersey employees ‘won’ until you see their contract?” One can practically hear the swoop of his cape as all exeunt and the lights dim for the next scene.
While Medieval Times, with its complimentary paper crowns, is certainly geared toward families, the experience has long been a magnet for quasi-ironic outings by young doofuses and companies looking for a not-that-expensive team-building exercise. Indeed, NewYorkPartyBus dot com offers round trip service that includes “2 Stripper Poles and not there for decoration” and a fog machine which they boast “blows all over the place.”
Not long ago, Jimmy Fallon and Post Malone rode their noble steeds to Lyndhurst for this evening of japery.