As Day Three of the stagehands strike nears the end -- for those of you just now tuning in, Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) is striking against The League of American Theatres and Producers -- I just received an e-mail from a frustrated close source who is also a member of a union, albeit in another industry, who has provided me permission to run the following missive:
I have to say that I agree with every single point this union member has made. I'm particularly annoyed by the dismissive remark on "disappointed kids from wealthy families." What about the disappointed kids who are from middle class and working poor families who are taking advantage of special opportunities to see that once in a year Broadway show?
I really don't know what the real story is here. Are the jobs the producers want to cut really unnecessary, or would they jeopardize safety? I don't know.
It's clear you shouldn't need as many people to load in Frost/Nixon as August: Osage County. I realize this is highly skilled work. But if you only need 25 stagehands instead of 50, should you be required to pay the other 25 so you won't be cutting the jobs of hard-working blue-collar Americans? That's ridiculous.
But these comments from The Humble Nailbanger really made me mad: "Well, we’re on strike. As I expected, what news coverage I’ve seen has been centered on all the disappointed little kiddies who don’t get to see The Grinch, and no news about the disappointed little kiddies -- children of hard-working, blue-collar men and women -- who would result from all the stagehands’ jobs that management is looking to cut. At times like this, it really is all about how the story is told. Oh woe, the disappointed kids from wealthy families who can afford Broadway tickets, and nothing about how most if not all of these men have families as well, and how the jobs that would be cut back would result in deprivation for them. And real deprivation, like no Christmas and a sparse Thanksgiving. Or, how the owners are looking to 'save money.' Which, of course, means 'more profits.' What’s a few out of work blue-collar Americans when yet another rich guy gets richer? I am, of course, not surprised in the least. I come from stagehands, this is what my family knows for generations. We grew up not seeing our fathers until late at night, unless they were laid up in bed, hurt from….working! Stagehands work through lunch and vacations. We work hurt and retire with permanent injuries, all so the show can go on. We are the first there to turn the lights on in the morning, and the last to leave and turn them off at night."
Oh, cry me a river! Do they know how many jobs have been cut in the [insert name of countless other industries here]? And guess what, I know people who work their whole careers at night. They didn't see their fathers until late at night. But that was the career their fathers chose. It was their decision. No one made them do it. And c'mon, no one has a guarantee of lifetime employment. You'd think they were doing this for nothing, out of the goodness of their hearts, all for the love of the the theater, risking life and limb every day.
I'm sorry, but they're not police officers or firefighters, who really do risk their lives every day. I'm sure if they're hurt, the stagehands call in sick or go on disability. And really, permanent injuries? No vacations? Really? Am I missing something?
I'm sure the union mandates that they get a lunch break! One of the most telling comments is that his family have been stagehands for generations. Hmm, wonder how he got his job? Merit? I doubt it. Connections? Probably.
Gee, I wonder how many women and minorities are in the stagehands union? I bet not many, because their fathers and grandfathers weren't in the union. And they complain about the producers being trust-fund babies! And to imply that it's only the children of wealthy families who are being disappointed by the strike is insulting!
My message to both The League and Local One is simple: Don't ever, ever disparage your audience. Ultimately, it's our hand that feeds you. We can easily shift our patronage elsewhere. If you didn't have those of us willing to plunk down the ever-increasing price of the tickets, there would be no job, no return on investment, no Broadway.
End of story.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Strike Fallout, Part Two? Opening Nights In Question (November 12, 2007)
Strike Day Three: The "F" Word (November 12, 2007)
Union Of The Snake? Duran Duran Moves Remainder Of Broadway Gig To Roseland (November 11, 2007)
Strike: Day Two (November 11, 2007)
STRIKE! (November 9, 2007)
A Broadway Stagehands Strike Appears Imminent (November 9, 2007)
Roll Up Your Sleeves And Get To Work! (November 7, 2007)
Now That The Union Has Spoken... (October 22, 2007)
It's Unanimous! (October 20, 2007)
D-Day Indeed (October 21, 2007)
$5 Million Per Day (October 19, 2007)
Nederlanders: On Their Own Again? (October 18, 2007)
The Broadway Theatres Not Impacted By Labor Dispute (October 17, 2007)
Bloomberg Appears Ready To Step Into Fray (October 16, 2007)
If You're Holding Tix For Broadway This Week, You're Safe (October 15, 2007)
Stagehands To Vote On Strike...October 21 (October 12, 2007)
The Shows Must Go On...At Least Over Weekend (October 12, 2007)
Still No Lockout (October 12, 2007)
No Lockout Tonight (October 11, 2007)
Lockout Likely (October 10, 2007)
Is This The One For One? (October 9, 2007)
Stagehands' Union Concedes Key Point (October 5, 2007)
Stagehands Talks To Continue This Afternoon (October 5, 2007)
No Monday Lockout (September 29, 2007)
Before The Holidays Strike? (September 25, 2007)
Thanks, Mel! (July 6, 2007)