The knights, knaves, and wenches of Southern California let their wrath be known this weekend, as 25 workers at Orange County Medieval Times walked out to protest unfair labor practices, CNN reports.
“We’ll be out picketing basically every day for the foreseeable future until we can make some kind of meaningful progress with the company,” Erin Zapcic, lead organizer of Medieval Times Performers United, who plays a queen in the pre-Renaissance live entertainment, said.
Just before Saturday’s second performance, as if by royal decree, half the employees in the workplace’s bargaining unit betook themselves from the castle, tweeting mightily “Good Nobles, We are ON STRIKE!!”
Saturday’s action comes more than two months after performers at the restaurant/venue voted verily 27-18 in favor of unionizing, and joined 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 November.
While the fools and varlets of the OC venue acknowledge that they perform more for love than money, they point to venues so short-staffed they’re forced to work six show-packed days a week.
“They love to tell us that we’re not Broadway and it’s absolutely correct,” says Zapcic. “Broadway does eight shows a week. We do anywhere from 16 to 21.”
She says their walk-out is already putting pressure on the Orange County venue, whose company has pulled performers from other departments and non-unionized locations, the nearest to California being in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Despite their anachronistic roles, Medieval Times performers are in a new vanguard of labor organizing, as dancers, strippers, and other merry-makers find collective bargaining power in historically compromised employer relations.
“Post-pandemic, people just have a very different view of what their time is worth and what their working conditions should be,” said Zapcic, whose speech is infuriatingly free of faux-Elizabethan prose.
Public momentum began building behind the medieval performers in October, when Medieval Times LLC filed a lawsuit over the group’s use of the company logo—on TikTok.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today