U2 Draw the Ire of Winnipeg Union, Allegedly Threaten to Boycott Province

U2 Draw the Ire of Winnipeg Union, Allegedly Threaten to Boycott Province
On Sunday (May 29), U2 played a show at Winnipeg's Canad Inns Stadium. Unfortunately, all did not go smoothly for the Irish arena rockers, as they're now wrapped up in a battle with the city's International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 63.

As the Georgia Straight reports, the U2 crew were met by protesting union members when they arrived in Winnipeg two days before the concert, on May 27, to shoot some footage for an upcoming documentary. The band and their management chose non-unionized workers from Mid Canada Production Services, in addition to staff at the Burton Cummings Theatre, leading the IATSE to launch Manitoba Labour Board proceedings to certify them and request that U2 Principle Management send them a full list of production employees.

In a statement, IATSE president Matthew D. Loeb said, "This is nothing short of union busting. The members of Local 63 have been working in legitimate theatre and at every major concert event in Winnipeg for over 100 years. They had agreed to match the costs of any non-union labour provider working on the U2 concert. The International will continue to support the efforts of the members of Local 63 to ensure that labour standards are maintained."

U2 road manager Jake Berry did not take kindly the the union's actions, even going so far as allegedly threatening to boycott the prairie province.

Chris McIvor, Mid Canada's operations director, told the Winnipeg Free Press, "His basic response was, 'We don't have time to deal with this. We're just going to ignore it. We'll just never step foot in Manitoba again.'"

IATSE representative Barny Haines said, "I find it peculiar, with respect to U2 and the persona of the band when it comes to human rights. I find it questionable for U2 to say it won't return here because of an attempt to exercise the rights Canadians have celebrated for decades."

The usually outspoken Bono, on the other hand, has not yet issued a public response to the situation.

On a lighter note, Edmonton Oilers centre Gilbert Brule recently gave Bono a ride in his car when the U2 singer was, um, hitchhiking in West Vancouver. The Edmonton Journal reports that the rock star had been out for a walk with his assistant on Tuesday (May 31) when they got caught in the rain and opted to flag down a car. It just so happened to be Brule, who was in town to watch game one of the Stanley Cup finals.

Bono was so thankful for the ride that he invited Brule, his girlfriend and his mother to the U2 concert in Edmonton on Wednesday (June 1). The hockey player sold his tickets to the Stanley Cup and accepted the backstage passes instead.

Bono even gave Brule a shout-out during the show, telling the crowd, "I like ice hockey because people who play ice hockey are the kind of people who pick up hitchhikers. I'm ever so grateful. I've decided that I want to be Gilbert Brule."