IATSE Local 51 Officers

Barry Thomas

Vice President
Michael Eisner

Jim Capfer

Business Agent
Mark Grady

Board of Trustees
Joe Flanagan
Kenny Thompson
Richard Worley

Proudly serving South Texas since 1899
May 1st, 1899, Galveston-Houston Theatrical Stage Employees Protective Union was chartered.

In 1909 fifteen members broke away and received their own charter as I.A.T.S.E. Local 51.

In the early 1900's Local 51 members worked setting up the traveling vaudeville shows and performances by touring companies that came to Houston by train and later by truck. Members worked backstage at the downtown movie palaces that had become a popular form of entertainment at that time.

In 1910 Jesse H. Jones, a well known Houston Business Leader and Arts Patron helped in the effort to build the City Auditorium.

In 1918 a great influenza epidemic closed Houston theaters for months.

In 1920 the theaters were back in business with Enrico Caruso performing to an audience of 6,000 in the new City Auditorium. Several Local 51 members went off to war joining the Army Aviation Corps. Thankfully, all members returned safely.

In 1928 the Democratic National Convention was held in Houston and Local 51 members were there also working hard to make the Convention a success.

In 1938 the Sam Houston Coliseum was built and would eventually become the home of the World famous Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for nearly 30 years. A $2 Million Music Hall opened next to the Coliseum that same year where Local 51 Stagehands worked till the buildings were demolished in June 1998.

In 1939 the I.A.T.S.E. 6th District Convention was held at Houston's Rice Hotel. International President George Browne, General Secretary-Treasurer Louis Krouse and International Representative Edward Miller, who was also a Local 51 member, attended the convention. Membership at this time had grown to 27 and included members of three families represented in the current rolls, the Barhorsts, the Trammells and the Taranto Family.

In 1940 the ever popular Houston Symphony was formed.

In the 1940's movies were a popular form of entertainment in Houston. Local 51 members spent much of their time working in the downtown movie theaters like the Loew's, the Wayside, Metropolitan and the Majestic.

In 1954, after World War II, Houston continued to grow and so did Local 51. The Music Hall renovated and expanded to more then 3000 seats. Local 51 members worked open air concerts by the Houston Symphony at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was also going strong at the Coliseum.

In 1955 The Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet were established.

In 1966 the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts opened on the former site of the City Auditorium. The Society for the Performing Arts, a non-profit corporation was also founded. Also, in 1966, the Houston Astrodome referred to as "the Eighth Wonder of the World" became an American Landmark. This $45 Million venue became the new home of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and as well as professional sporting events and concerts.

In 1971 Local 51 made a giant leap toward the security of its members by establishing the Local 51 Defined Contribution Pension Plan. This employer contribution is negotiated into all Local 51 contracts and working agreements. Membership was now at 47 with members working on various movies such as a John Wayne movie and covering the Gemini missions at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

In the 1980's Local 51 members were touring the world! The growing popularity of the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet took those companies, along with our members, to places like Milan, Edinburgh, Cairo, and China. Other members went on the road with traveling productions of "Phantom of the Opera," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "State Fair," and "Annie."

In 1987 the Wortham Theater Center was built downtown. This new center would become the home of both the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet.

In 1992 the Republican National Convention was held in the Houston Astrodome's complex. Local 51 technicians worked hard around the clock for weeks preparing for the event. Also, in the 1990's Disney chooses Houston and the Music Hall for its world premiere of "Beauty and the Beast." "Beauty" drew sellout crowds before moving on to Broadway.

In 1997 The Houston City Council approved $75 Million for a new music hall. The Hobby Family pledged $12 Million to the center which would become the famous Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

In January 1999 Local 51 came full circle when it merged with the membership of I.A.T.S.E. Local 65 in Galveston. Also in 1999, Local 51 members celebrated 100 years of Service to the Arts in Houston.

In 2001 the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors where Local 51 Stage Technicians work on TUTS Stage Productions and Broadway across America touring shows.

In Solidarity

Local 51 membership has grown from 15 in 1909 to over 200 members today. Our members can currently be found working at the Wortham Theater, Jones Hall, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, Miller Outdoor Theater, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and also working convention and exhibit shows doing audio visual work for the Freeman Company and AVW Audio Visual, Inc at the George R. Brown Convention Center and in every major hotel in Houston.

We salute the hard work of our past members who went before us and look hopefully to our present members and all who come after us.