Friday, February 14, 2014

The union difference: Union workers care

Here's a great post from the firedoglake blog about how unions protect management from their own worst instincts. It's by cocktailhag, who worked with union (expensive) and non-union (cheap) stagehands while she was working as a production manager for a regional ballet company.

She concludes the expensive stagehands were worth every penny, partly 'because they knew what they were doing, but mostly because they also cared about what they were doing.'

When the union ran the show, she wrote,
...every piece of equipment was in perfect working order, the space was flawlessly maintained, no matter its age, and an army of skilled guys (and lots of gals, even in the 1980′s) could unload, say, Cinderella, and hang it, with lighting, in about four hours. Yes, I had to pay for coffee breaks, and even the coffee, but the result was a little better than what I got with underpaid flunkies, volunteers, and yours truly, everywhere else. 
In short, what unions do is protect owners from their own worst instincts, and everyone wins; not least the owners themselves.  No one benefits when tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment lies idle because no one is skillful enough to maintain it; no temp is going to zealously insist that even if you’re staging Phantom of the Opera, no, you can’t put even one screw in our lovely floor, and certainly no one is going to not just tell you that your gigantic chandelier can’t go in the flyloft with its glass bowls, but then make safe “bowls” out of polycarbonate in just a few minutes and fly it up on schedule. 
What I learned working with stage hands was that with their good pay, benefits, and paths for advancement came a reciprocal dedication to safety, quality, and a better experience for presenters and audiences.  Yes, I had to pay someone to hold the ladder for me if I wanted to climb one, but with a proscenium forty feet high, was that the worst thing?
In case you weren't aware, the Teamsters represent thousands of workers in the motion picture industry including firms that produce feature films, television programs, commercials, and live theatrical productions. Read about the Teamsters Motion Picture &Theatrical Trade Division here.

Read the whole firedoglake post here.