Wednesday, November 14, 2007

League, Thy Name Is Hubris.

"League officials said that the current contract was far out of line with industry practices in the rest of the country and that they would not sign another one with these provisions."

This doesn't exactly sound like something I'd be bragging about. Imagine a stagehand anywhere seeing this contract detailed for the first time. If the stagehands in NYC have provisions that protect crew size, that have provisions that protect the safe operation of the theatre, that have a viable middle class wages with benefits and I was a stagehand at a venue in a smaller market and I didn't have these things, I'd be pretty honked off. Right to work state or not, ticket prices aren't scaled back that far in most of these tour barns. What do you mean I can't have what the Local One in New York City has? Why the hell not? I’m doing the same work and you’re charging New York prices. The lowest guy makes $1200 a week and I’m making $800 for the same hours? Screw you! Overtime after eight. You bet. You mean that they can’t break the yellow card early? I want that. An extra hour just to mop and so we don’t have to do preset on a wet deck? Not anymore! And they’re getting all that support from the other unions. Maybe I’ll go talk to the Equity deputy and the musicians and see what we can do together”

The League may have just set its world on fire.


A roadguy said...

O.N.S. -

I'm a pink contract man on one of the musicals in town. I'm out on the picketline supporting my fellow union brothers and sisters and totally support local one in it's fight against the league.

But having toured around the country, and having done production in many of the bigger cities (Washington, Seattle, L.A., San Fran, Chicago, etc) I can tell you that there are a lot of work rules in NYC that seem very inflexible and outdated compared to the other cities. For instance, In most other production cities, you can scale back to needed help only (plus department heads) after 8 hours on production shows (not touring yellowing cards).

In a lot of cities the show call starts at hour before curtain, and the mop CAN take place safely during that time. Of course, a lot of productions do ask for an earlier mop. A lot of cities have more flexible meal break rules versus local ones' etched in stone 12pm or 1pm, 5pm or 6pm breaks. A lot of locals will allow a ten hour day with one meal break (5&5).

My point is, don't assume that the other locals around the country will have blanket support for all of the local one work rules. Be careful how you present your arguements. $800 in some smaller markets IS the same as $1200 in NYC. I can't recall playing a local that doesn't have an 8 hour overtime rule for theatrical (some corporate gigs, where the rates are higher, are 10 hours before overtime).

Again, I'm completely supporting local one. Just suggesting that you be cautious when using the work rules as an arguement to the public.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm enjoying your writing - bummer about the rain today! I'm packing extra umbrellas.

Also - your link to Steve On Broadway's blog is broken - there's an extra "http" in there. Great blog - you are introducing me to stuff I never knew existed.

One NYC StageHand said...

Roadguy, my point was that in the struggle to maintain Broadway and good middle class standards for working stagehands everywhere, why engage in a race to the bottom? From your point of view, perhaps the out of town rules worked just fine, maximum flexibility for a minimum of cost. Doesn't necessarily mean that the local crew doesn't want or will not end up demanding theses same conditions. If the theatre is the only one in town, perhaps, but not in NYC, with the multiple theatres with the same owner. It benefits the owner to consider show call a "fee" rather than an hourly call as this allows for crew to do work calls in two different houses for the same owner and not to incur overtime. NYC is unique and it has unique rules. It has it's benefits and it's drawbacks, none of which, to my mind, are worth going to war over.