Countdown – Week 47 – Delays and Strikes (originally posted 11/19/07)

Ok ok OK! I get it, David where is Crisis! We want more Crisis! David are you actually having your midlife crisis and can’t handle writing about it

Work and life just got in the way, I have been rehearsing my latest show which opens on tour next week, and commuting and forth to NJ to help my mother, who just had her hip replaced last month, and still needs a hand around the house from time to time. So I haven’t had much time to sit in front of the computer to type up a blog. But….

I did get sometime on the bus, (when I didn’t need to nap) to get a lot of thoughts and outlines and even some partial essays written for future blogs – Look forward to my upcoming thoughts on – Movie Blockbusters, the Fall TV season (and the impending end of new episodes due to the writers strike), riding the subway, and of course, women.

But today I am finally going to discuss the IATSE Local 1 Stagehand Strike that has closed down most of Broadway.

A lot of people I know have asked me what is going on with the strike, and how does it affect me. The “how it affects me?” part is really easy – Not in the least, At least for now. Since I am not a member of that union (much to many of your surprise) and I am not working on broadway show produced by a League of American Theatres and Producers (sadly). But here are my thoughts about it.

As most of you know, I am pro-union, pro-labor, and fairly left of center politically, so I do support the stagehands and their right to strike, but I do not sympathize with them emotionally, like i did for the musicians back when AFM 802 had their Broadway Strike a few years ago. Stagehands are very well paid, and have a great support structure, all to the union’s benefit and hard work, something they have been able to do without ever having to go on strike before.

The union is doing what it supposed to do – protecting their members and their jobs. As I understand it, and (if someone else knows more, please tell me) the key issue appear to be the number of stagehands needed to perform a show, and the inflexablity of the union to change a work call on a show once it starts, that meaning, if a show goes into production and during technical rehearsals or previews an effect, or a scene with gets cut, and you hired a crew member to work specifically on that scene or effect, the person still has a job, even though their reason for being there is no longer in the show. And they are required to pay this person for as the show runs (so a stage hand on a show like Cats, or Phantom, whose job got cut early on, would have remained on the payroll for the entire run of the show) Is that truely fair? Certainly an actor who was cast in any scene that got cut does not get to keep collecting a paycheck if they no longer have a part in the show.

Also this is the height of the broadway tourist season – hundreds of thousands of visitors come to NYC this time of year to shop, see the tree at Rockafeller Plaza, and see Broadway Theatre. Producers stand to lose millions, and the tourists who spent their money on tickets, and travel/hotel costs will be out that money. Those tourist who were able to cancel their plans now cost the city money in lost hotel and resturant revenue. I hear that a few airlines have cancelled a flight a day to NYC due to a drop off in demand.

My biggest concern is for the actors and stage managers of the closed shows (since I am a member of that union, and some of those folks are my personal friends) There are some shows that may not survive the strike, costing many actors and stage managers their jobs (which they are not getting paid for – and now have to live of 1/3rd or less of their salaries on unemployment)

– Week 46 to follow almost immediately after lunch so come back soon LOL


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