Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm in the Wrong Business

Carnegie Hall Stagehand Moving Props Makes $530,044

Why? One word: unions.

The stagehands benefit from a strong union: Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees demonstrated its clout in November 2007 when its members walked off their Broadway jobs and closed 26 shows for almost three weeks. The strike ended after stagehands and producers agreed to a five-year contract that both sides called a compromise.

Joshua B. Freeman, a U.S. labor historian at Queens College and author of “Working Class New York,” said the union’s power to shut down a vital part of New York’s entertainment industry gives it leverage in negotiations.

“They have a credible threat of withdrawing their labor,” Freeman said.

Local One President James J. Claffey Jr., who earned $260,877 in salary and benefits in 2007, declined to comment. Union spokesman Bruce Cohen said O’Connell had no comment. Gillinson also had no comment, while Matlaga and Weber didn’t return calls.

Cohen said in an e-mail that members “work under collective bargaining negotiated fairly with management, signed by management and ratified by the membership of the union.”

Hooray for the little guys! Not.