Golfers and fans arriving at the Sony Open in Hawaii this morning were greeted by pickets lining the entrance to Waialae Country Club in Kahala in a strike limiting coverage of the final round of the event on the Golf Channel.
Local video and audio production workers from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said they took the action after stalled negotiations.
The IATSE and Golf Channel have been in negotiations for nine months.
“It’s been a strange week,” said Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing, who was scheduled to provide commentary. “I’m going home now, how’s that?”
Thursday’s opening round of the Sony Open drew 343,000 viewers, according to the entertainment website ShowBuzz Daily and was projected to substantially raise that for the final day.
The strike comes a week after the PGA Tour and the Hawaii Tourism Authority announced a $2.1 million marketing agreement for the Sony Open and two other golf events that run through 2022. The HTA has estimated the broadcast media value of the Sony Open at $4.2 million.
Non-union workers were expected to fill in.
The action also impacts the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic and Diamond Resorts Invitational.
The PGA Tour said it is making available updated scoring on its website, PGATour.com, the PGA Tour app and social media platforms.
John Culleeny, International Alliance of Theatrical, Stage Employees spokesman told the Star-Advertiser, “Golf Channel technicians who after nine months of negotiations and rejecting two contracts, the last one by 83 percent, and with a strike authorization pretty close to that, said we’re going to go on strike over the last offer. The company didn’t budge so we walked.”
“The main sticking point is the fact that our wages are not equal to what our regional rates are in the country and what other networks pay. They’re far below,” Culleeny said.
Culleeny said, “We had last been in talks on Saturday, didn’t go anywhere so we decided to walk on Sunday.” He said, “They might have one or two people who run a camera, but quite frankly most of the camera were sent back to the truck and packed up.”
Culleeny said workers who were supposed to continue on to other productions next week, including the Champions Tour’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on the Big Island, returned to the mainland.
“They went home, we’re on strike we’re going home, They’re on planes or flying out tomorrow. A couple of people were in Kona setting up and they stopped working,” Culleeny said.
In a statement, the PGA Tour said, “We apologize for the interruptions to today’s PGA Tour telecasts due to a labor dispute between the Golf Channel and its live tournament technicians union. We are working closely with our partners at the Golf Channel to provide as much television coverage as possible of the Sony Open in Hawaii.”
The Star-Advertiser’s Dave Reardon contributed to this report.