One of the best ways to demonstrate that the League has miscalculated Local One and it's membership was best summarized by a merchant on 46th St. He was reported to have said that by walking the picket line the members of Local One were working harder than they had in years. While this may have more openly shown the contempt that many of the aspiring nouveau and faux riche have for working people, it also demonstrates a lack of understanding of the inner strength that workers today need to have in order to survive today. They need that strength in order to survive downsizing and real estate inflation and diminished buying power of their wages and having their sons and daughters put in harms way. They need that strength in order to keep a household together when both parents have to work.
Walking a picket line with so many people and locations keeps a person from hearing all the stories of support given to the strikers but one story I heard stands out. At a meeting held the other day, among the things discussed was a need for volunteers in the office manning the phone bank. It was hoped to avoid a reoccurrence of the unfortunate loss we suffered earlier in the strike by protecting some of the older members from the inclement weather. As I’ve said earlier, we are accustomed to working in these kinds of conditions, unloading trucks and doing outdoor events but being in a union also means we protect our own.
There were no takers. The old timers felt that their presence on the line was more important than staying comfortable. Someone was quoted that being with my friends, protecting our jobs, keeps me warm.
So the League has gone to war with the stagehands over a philosophy of more. They need more flexibility, more profit and quicker returns to the investors, more latitude to do away with the way of doing things that they don’t understand the why or how the situation or job condition came into being. So be it. They weighed the profit and loss that was going to happen when they were knew there was going to be a strike or lockout and felt that the idea of more was of greater importance than a sense of community in creating an art form. And while they may share the contempt for working people that the hash slinger on 46th St. has, they also did not understand the soul of a union member. They did not understand the hardness it takes to get by in this world of diminished expectations, the fierce protectiveness of each other when threatened or our strength in numbers. This is not just stagehands I’m talking about. The whole theatrical community has come together because they know that they are probably next in the Leagues game plan.
Just be aware that you are taking on the young and fit and the old and hard. I suspect that was the fatal flaw in your plans.