Yes, as through this world I've wandered I've seen lots of funny men; some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen”
One of our own died last night on the picket line. He died because an irresponsible commitment to improving margins. He died because of inflammatory rhetoric. He died because of a lack of compassion and a misplaced sense of entitlement.
But he also died because of his own drive to see the fight thought to the end. He died because of his commitment to improving the life of his natural family, his extended family and his community. He died for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons. We, as his coworkers and fellow union members are filled with sadness at his loss, his loss for all the wrong reasons. We are also filled with admiration for his care, his love, his drive.
Black armbands had spontaneously appeared on the line throughout the day. Most were made of nice pieces of velour from the ladies of the wardrobe union. Some made from duvateen from television studios and other sources. Duvateen is a simple black cloth that is used for masking sets, a tool. Today that simple tool was turned into a symbol of mourning and resistance.
Tonight we gathered by his stagedoor. It was a brief time for him and for us. The solemnity of the moment was marked by its quietude. We, as a group, tend towards volubility, a love of talk, chat, gossip and verbal gymnastics. There was none of that in the breezeway tonight. His loss fundamentally changed the nature of our struggle. This fight stopped being a fight over money and became struggle for our dignity.
Our Pastor, who has stood by us, said the classic prayers. There were a few words from union leaders and we quietly drifted away.
Whatever happens with the contract, whatever happens to the conditions and the money, his loss and how and why it happened will be remembered for a generation.
Normally we would expect this event to simply end up on a paragraph in the back of the tabloid with a headline, ”Stagehand Dies In A Fight Over Money”. But his passing and how it happened will be written large for us for a long time. It will be burned into our hearts and taught to those who follow us.
Friday a stagehand died in a fight over money. Don’t ever forget.