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Author Topic: Dealing with IATSE  (Read 15246 times)

kristianjohnsen

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2012, 09:47:33 am »

Every time colleagues in Denmark bitch about strange union rules and lazy locals I tell them how it works in the US. Most do not believe me.

I'm also puzzled to read all this.  The way I'm used to this biz working is that everyone must pull their full load and maybe some more to even make doors on time.  Efficiency is key in everything and people help out where they are most needed.

Some of the examples cited above gives me the impression that this system may be slightly inefficient (like having to contact 4 people about a radio mic possibly dieing any moment during a show, while nobody seems the be the least bit concerned about it).

Also, it seems strange to me that someone isn't allowed to work on setting up their own personal gear just because the house crew wants a coffe break. 

I'm used to hearing stories about American efficiency and how people are pushed to their very limits, all in a day's work.  Yet, all of this sounds so...strangely French  ;D

I guess it all makes sense if you're in the middle of it, but looking at it form the sidelines I'm gonna quote Gordon Ramsey's favourite expression.  Fuck me.
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Mark McFarlane

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 10:56:31 am »

...
I guess it all makes sense if you're in the middle of it, but looking at it form the sidelines I'm gonna quote Gordon Ramsey's favourite expression.  Fuck me.

In my opinion, labor unions were a great thing during the industrial revolution and greatly improved worker benefits and safety.  They still serve some good purposes in some industries but are a PITA to deal with.  I've never used union labor at a concert (one man shop) but have many times at convention centers.  I've had to wait an hour to plug in a computer to an outlet that was already in the booth and live. Had to wait for someone else to come hang a poster,... 
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Patrick Moore

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Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2012, 11:25:53 am »

I really don't want this thread to turn into an argument for/against unions in general. 

Thanks very much for all your responses.  They were all helpful.  If you have any other advice for my self preservation in this tour, please speak up! 

Tim McCulloch

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2012, 11:49:39 am »

I'm also puzzled to read all this.  The way I'm used to this biz working is that everyone must pull their full load and maybe some more to even make doors on time.  Efficiency is key in everything and people help out where they are most needed.

Some of the examples cited above gives me the impression that this system may be slightly inefficient (like having to contact 4 people about a radio mic possibly dieing any moment during a show, while nobody seems the be the least bit concerned about it).

Also, it seems strange to me that someone isn't allowed to work on setting up their own personal gear just because the house crew wants a coffe break. 

I'm used to hearing stories about American efficiency and how people are pushed to their very limits, all in a day's work.  Yet, all of this sounds so...strangely French  ;D

I guess it all makes sense if you're in the middle of it, but looking at it form the sidelines I'm gonna quote Gordon Ramsey's favourite expression.  Fuck me.

Yes, Chef! ;)

If there is a genuine issue with getting a show up on time, stage hands can be worked without a meal break, but the employer will pay either 2X or 2.5X the prevailing wage rate (depends on contract) until the meal break is granted.  It's called "meal penalty."  Seldom is this used because 98% of the time, the trucks arrive as scheduled and the tour crew is all present.  Are Americans better at making it to the load in on time than Norwegians or Danes.  ???  Also, hands don't decide, on their own, when to take breaks.  Break periods are a matter of negotiated contract terms, and always coordinated with a tour's production manager.

As for the radio mic example... generally after personal introductions, there is little need to engage the head carpenter for things that relate to individual departments like that microphone.  In this example, the projectionist has actual duties and responsibilities.  He was right to notify his superiors that the production company needed help with a piece of gear owned by the venue.  He has no authority to dispatch an audio department worker and doing so will distract him from his prescribed duty.  Had he taken this on his own and there were projection issues while attending to it, he'd have been removed from the call for not doing his own job.

In our Local, we seldom enforce strict departmentalization.  Let's take a theatrical show to use as an example...  At our performing arts center, the FOH mixing location requires a push from almost half way around the building (it's round... www.century2.org ).  The audio department, typically 4 hands, does the push.  Once they get there, they will encounter about a dozen steps DOWN to the house left voms, with a tight turn at the landing.  Then they load in through a pedestrian door at the back of the hall, followed a 16" lift up to the mix riser.

When the tour has a large frame console, and most do, it will take more than 4 stage hands to get it down the stairs, through that door, up onto the riser, and remove the lid.  In some Locals, that means hiring more audio hands for a 4 hour minimum; in ours, it means we "borrow" 2-4 workers from another department for the 10 - 15 minutes this will take.  Similarly, if the carpenters or electricians need some extra help, they can borrow audio hands that aren't busy at the moment.

Because every venue, every employer is different, so too are the contract provisions that govern the work done, so a tour can experience some very different ways of local staffing.  Venues (who are typically the employer, but not always) had to agree to these terms, conditions and wages.  These are not set by decree.

Trade unions are about protecting worker safety, providing work opportunity, and negotiating wages and benefits with employers.  Try to do those things without collective representation...

Have fun, good luck... and if you ever find yourself working in our jurisdiction I think you'll be pleased with the quality of workers and the fair wages and work conditions.

Tim McCulloch, Secretary-Treasurer
IATSE Local 190
Wichita KS USA
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2012, 11:52:18 am »

In my opinion, labor unions were a great thing during the industrial revolution and greatly improved worker benefits and safety.  They still serve some good purposes in some industries but are a PITA to deal with.  I've never used union labor at a concert (one man shop) but have many times at convention centers.  I've had to wait an hour to plug in a computer to an outlet that was already in the booth and live. Had to wait for someone else to come hang a poster,...
.
Having done trade show and exhibit work, I will say that the delay you encountered was most likely due to the workers handling other exhibit orders in queue.  Often the exhibit contractor will hire only 4 hands to do a 400 booth show, and those hands do everything from hanging your poster to setting up complex displays.  How this is scheduled and dispatched is not under the control of the workers.
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2012, 12:35:40 pm »

I'm also puzzled to read all this.  The way I'm used to this biz working is that everyone must pull their full load and maybe some more to even make doors on time.  Efficiency is key in everything and people help out where they are most needed.

Think of it like this, if you had a symphony concert staffed by a bunch of AFM musicians (that's American Federation of Musicians), you wouldn't ask the trombone player to pick up and play the oboe part because you couldn't find the oboe player. (Although it's probably more likely that the trombone player would be late or not present than the oboe player :) )
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kristianjohnsen

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2012, 03:27:40 pm »

Are Americans better at making it to the load in on time than Norwegians or Danes.  ???

I don't think so, but you should see the Germans!


When the tour has a large frame console, and most do, it will take more than 4 stage hands to get it down the stairs, through that door, up onto the riser, and remove the lid.  In some Locals, that means hiring more audio hands for a 4 hour minimum; in ours, it means we "borrow" 2-4 workers from another department for the 10 - 15 minutes this will take.  Similarly, if the carpenters or electricians need some extra help, they can borrow audio hands that aren't busy at the moment.

This is pretty much what we are used to here at every gig, which is why I enquired.  One big factor in our part of the world is that wages are high
 and unemployment is very low, meaning that it's an "employee's market".  This means that employers are constantly forced to think of clever ways to keep staffing low to make the show even happen financially.  Also, it can be quite challenging to get a hold of enough qualified people:  Sometimes there are so few of us in the first place, there's not enough to go around if people run idle even for just a short while.


Trade unions are about protecting worker safety, providing work opportunity, and negotiating wages and benefits with employers.  Try to do those things without collective representation...


Employees here have many of these benefits regulated through government no matter what trade/craft/ business they are in.  Those, like me, who are self-employed, don't.  Part of what you describe would be a dream-come true for people like me here.  Other parts of what I have read here still seem inefficient, but again, I'm just looking from the sidelines.

Thanks for sharing!




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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2012, 04:16:34 pm »


Trade unions are about protecting worker safety, providing work opportunity, and negotiating wages and benefits with employers.  Try to do those things without collective representation...

Have fun, good luck... and if you ever find yourself working in our jurisdiction I think you'll be pleased with the quality of workers and the fair wages and work conditions.

Tim McCulloch, Secretary-Treasurer
IATSE Local 190
Wichita KS USA

I have managed to do OK without collective representation in my workplace, and my anecdotal contact with union workers has mainly been at trade shows ....

----deleted----


Why exactly do government employees need a union? 

---deleted----

Fill in the blanks...

JR


 
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2012, 04:55:07 pm »

I have managed to do OK without collective representation in my workplace, and my anecdotal contact with union workers has mainly been at trade shows ....

----deleted----


Why exactly do government employees need a union? 

---deleted----

Fill in the blanks...

JR

I would assert that your negotiations with your prior employers was based on them needing a very specific and narrow skill set, and that the only needed 1 worker.  Manufacturing and service workers are much more of a commodity, and negotiating strength comes from collective bargaining.

The purpose of collective bargaining is to level (as much as possible) the playing field, in terms of the relative power held/exercised by both parties.  But you already know that, John, so why the trolling?

As for why government employees need unions, I'd say that's because their employer has vastly more power than virtually any other employer in the USA.  Again, I think you know that.  I supposed I'll be sorry I took the bait...
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"Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something."  - Kurt Vonnegut

John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2012, 05:49:32 pm »

I would assert that your negotiations with your prior employers was based on them needing a very specific and narrow skill set, and that the only needed 1 worker.  Manufacturing and service workers are much more of a commodity, and negotiating strength comes from collective bargaining.

The purpose of collective bargaining is to level (as much as possible) the playing field, in terms of the relative power held/exercised by both parties.  But you already know that, John, so why the trolling?

As for why government employees need unions, I'd say that's because their employer has vastly more power than virtually any other employer in the USA.  Again, I think you know that.  I supposed I'll be sorry I took the bait...
Sorry if you think I'm trolling or baiting you.

No I will not go down the rabbit hole with you...

Lets us just say opinions vary.

I had a young man at the gym last night tell me that I was living in a bubble and didn't know what was really going on.  :o :o :o :o

Oh well, that's why we have elections, and I hope everybody accepts the results calmly, since this may be another very tight race.

Good luck to us all...

JR

(joke) deleted...
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Re: Dealing with IATSE
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2012, 05:49:32 pm »


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