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Title: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Patrick Moore on November 01, 2012, 06:05:11 pm
I am FOH on a theater performance tour coming up, we're playing mostly large theaters and some small arenas.  All union houses.  I have dealt with IATSE venues before but never as a full time FOH engineer. So I guess I have some very blunt questions. 

1. Stagehands are the only ones allowed to unload our single 53' truck? I am apparently responsible for "calling cases" on load out but not sure entirely what that requires.

2. We are carrying all FOH gear but using house speakers.  Should I avoid interfacing my gear with the venue's gear without a union person?

3.  Who does the actual pulling of the snake to FoH? 

4. Is it out of line say, to ask an audio tech to help program wireless frequencies if the load in is running behind, or I'm needed in another area?  Are union techs allowed to operate my gear?

5.  What are some things to avoid doing that will get me in trouble or on the Venues' shit list?  I am a very competent engineer, but am pretty young so I simply don't want to step on toes or break policy. 



Any other words of advice would be great.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Andrew Broughton on November 01, 2012, 06:52:29 pm
A lot depends on the size of the city you're playing. The strictest places are New York, Chicago and Philly. Other places are typically more flexible in what you do and don't do. New York (Broadway) will not allow you to touch anything, Chicago and Philly will want you to let them do things, but you'll be able to place mics and things like that. Introduce yourself to the head audio and discuss what's ok to do in their venue. It's always better that you can give clear instructions and have them do it than to do it yourself, in any IATSE venue. Get everything prepped in a way that's obvious - colour-code and loom cables, label cases DSR, DSL, USR, USL, FOH, etc.

1. Stagehands are the only ones allowed to unload our single 53' truck? I am apparently responsible for "calling cases" on load out but not sure entirely what that requires.
Some cities have IATSE truck loaders, others (like NY and LA) will have Teamsters. They will be the people in the truck. From the truck to the stage will be either pushers or your departmentalized stage hands.
You should memorize your truck pack, and have a drawing of same laminated to the inside rear wall of the truck. Have another copy or two floating around for your reference. Get the gear lined up in the right order at the dock, and then get by the door of the truck, "calling" the pieces as you want them in the truck. Most theaters like to use motors to stack cases, arenas like to use forklifts. Be organized but efficient. The crew will want to load the truck quickly, but take charge and make sure things go in order and at the right speed, not piling up and getting in the way in the truck. A good idea would be to number your cases in the order they pack in the truck. Just a sequential number, then anyone can line them up properly.

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2. We are carrying all FOH gear but using house speakers.  Should I avoid interfacing my gear with the venue's gear without a union person?
There will be a house audio person who will hook you up. You'll need to be set up for Left/Center/Right/Sub/Fills/Program Feed or any sub-set. Most places can take a left/right and create those zones. Good advancing is key there.

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3.  Who does the actual pulling of the snake to FoH?
The IA. Would you really want to do that yourself?

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4. Is it out of line say, to ask an audio tech to help program wireless frequencies if the load in is running behind, or I'm needed in another area?  Are union techs allowed to operate my gear?
They can do anything you ask them. They'll tell you if they don't know how to work the piece.

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5.  What are some things to avoid doing that will get me in trouble or on the Venues' shit list?  I am a very competent engineer, but am pretty young so I simply don't want to step on toes or break policy.
Be polite and organized. Remember people's names. Tell the head what you'll be working on first after unloading. Explain how you want things done clearly. Don't say "Who told you to do that?" Do say "Come see me when you're done and I'll get you going on the next project". Say thank you. Ask the head if you're unsure of what is allowed. Treat people like people and all will be fine. Don't go on stage during "dark stage" time.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Scott Carneval on November 01, 2012, 06:55:12 pm

4. Is it out of line say, to ask an audio tech to help program wireless frequencies if the load in is running behind, or I'm needed in another area?  Are union techs allowed to operate my gear?


It's out of line to ask an audio tech anything.  You must first ask the foreman, who will then instruct the audio tech.  Not being from a Union town, I didn't have any experience with how they work.  We went on a corporate tour and one of the house-provided wireless mic kits was dropping out.  I determined it to be a bad antenna by swapping the antenna off of a known good unit and resolving the problem.  This was during a show, so I notified the first tech that I saw.  He was a 'projectionist', so he couldn't touch the audio.  He had to go and get (walk, not call) his foreman.  The foreman came and I had to explain all over again what was happening.  He said 'Oh, I'll have to get our A2'.  Great.  A2 comes and I explain AGAIN what is wrong, and his response is 'oh yeah, one of our kits is like that.  We don't have any more antennas, but it should be ok'.  It was a diversity kit, so it worked for the rest of the show, but that is the most absurd way of doing business I have ever seen.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Andrew Broughton on November 01, 2012, 07:08:16 pm
It's out of line to ask an audio tech anything.
Not true.
You can ask anyone anything. Whether or not you get what you want depends on what you're asking and who you're asking it to. You asked the wrong person. As I said, get to know who the head of audio is, and try to use him as your "go-to guy". I always try to find out where they will be during the show in case I need something.
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but that is the most absurd way of doing business I have ever seen.
Saying things like that is not something that will help the situation. True or not.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 01, 2012, 07:12:48 pm
It's out of line to ask an audio tech anything.  You must first ask the foreman, who will then instruct the audio tech.  Not being from a Union town, I didn't have any experience with how they work.  We went on a corporate tour and one of the house-provided wireless mic kits was dropping out.  I determined it to be a bad antenna by swapping the antenna off of a known good unit and resolving the problem.  This was during a show, so I notified the first tech that I saw.  He was a 'projectionist', so he couldn't touch the audio.  He had to go and get (walk, not call) his foreman.  The foreman came and I had to explain all over again what was happening.  He said 'Oh, I'll have to get our A2'.  Great.  A2 comes and I explain AGAIN what is wrong, and his response is 'oh yeah, one of our kits is like that.  We don't have any more antennas, but it should be ok'.  It was a diversity kit, so it worked for the rest of the show, but that is the most absurd way of doing business I have ever seen.

Your experience in one venue, in one city is not indicative of how things are done elsewhere.  The contracts between employers/venues and each Local can be (and frequently are) very different from one another for reasons that are probably not obvious to those on the outside.

In reality, I wouldn't expect the projectionist to know much about the house radio mics.  He was correct in referring your issue to his head carpenter or call steward, who has supervisory authority over all stage hands on the call.

If you think ignoring hierarchy is a smart way of doing things, you've obviously never been in the Army or worked in an anal-retentive corporate environment.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: brian maddox on November 01, 2012, 07:53:19 pm
i spent my career in DC and because of proximity got to do quite a few shows in NYC and philly.  so....

what andrew said.  :)

couple other thoughts.

Also, if you're doing fairly major cities and doing fairly large venues, you're gonna usually be working with some very competent people.  House gigs at the larger venues are typically highly sought after and as such can be very competitive.  you'll run across the occasional 'nephew' situation, but for the most part you're gonna deal with some very sharp folks.

remember, the house guy knows the house, and you know the act.  listen to what he says about the house, and tell him what he needs to know about the act, and you'll have a great day.  proceed to tell him everything that is wrong with his house, or system, or neglect to mention to him that the Lead Narrator has a habit of spitting all over the House mic, and you're gonna have a bad day.

Did i mention VERY clear labeling on everything?

numbering the cases in pack order is a great idea as well.

frankly, anything that can remove words from the instructions you must give is a good idea.  the more words in your instructions, the greater the chance that something gets lost along the way.  'line the cases up in numerical order and i'll meet you at the truck' works way better than 'first we do the cadillac trucks, and then the 400 boxes and the RF rack, then the console drive rack and then...'  you get the idea.

when the crew is on break, you're on break.  take a break.

as Andrew said, if you're not sure what is allowed in a venue, ask.  It shows respect for the rules of the hall and tends to help win far more points than being afraid to do anything, or conversely blundering around like a toddler.  Treat your house guys with respect and thank them for their hard work and you'll do fine.  remember, if you're young in this biz, chances are VERY good you're gonna see most of them again, so make a good first impression and you'll have a much easier time from then on.

frankly, i envy you the adventure.

have fun.  good luck!!!
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: drew gandy on November 01, 2012, 07:57:13 pm
Treat people like people and all will be fine.

I've found that the definition of "treat people like people" is not a universal constant.  It means different things to different people.  But I agree with the sentiment. 

I would suggest that most union people are "let's get this done" kind of guys.  If you are a contemplative person prone to analyze and think things through for a while before acting, you're going to need to put on your brute force face and just make things happen whether you feel it's timely or "reasonable" to do it the way that things are being handed to you or not.  Of course, touring kind of bends you in this direction anyway.   If you're a "let's get this done" kind of person anyway, nevermind.  Just know your place and all will be fine.  The other posters have pretty much covered the details.   

Good luck and have a nice time on the road.  It can be way fun. 
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Tim McCulloch on November 01, 2012, 08:03:03 pm
I am FOH on a theater performance tour coming up, we're playing mostly large theaters and some small arenas.  All union houses.  I have dealt with IATSE venues before but never as a full time FOH engineer. So I guess I have some very blunt questions. 

1. Stagehands are the only ones allowed to unload our single 53' truck? I am apparently responsible for "calling cases" on load out but not sure entirely what that requires.

Truck loaders, whether IATSE or Teamsters, are the ones who work inside the truck.  They do not work outside the truck.  You can usually be in the truck directing the pack, giving special handling instructions, etc.  Tell your loaders how you want load straps (pull through the ratchet or unhooked from the E-track), when they stack stuff tell them "wheels to the sky/driver side/passenger side/back/front".

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2. We are carrying all FOH gear but using house speakers.  Should I avoid interfacing my gear with the venue's gear without a union person?

Yes, you should have the Local hand connect your signal lines to whatever jacks or input panels may exist in the house.  Never connect anything of yours to anything of the venues.  Why?  That what the stage hands are there for.

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3.  Who does the actual pulling of the snake to FoH?

Let the stage hands do it.  That's what they are there for.

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4. Is it out of line say, to ask an audio tech to help program wireless frequencies if the load in is running behind, or I'm needed in another area?  Are union techs allowed to operate my gear?

Nope, ask away.  Chances are fairly good that the local A1 on your call can do rudimentary frequency programming/synching without any direction, but be prepared to give directions.  Yes, local stage hands in your department are allowed to operate your gear.

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5.  What are some things to avoid doing that will get me in trouble or on the Venues' shit list?  I am a very competent engineer, but am pretty young so I simply don't want to step on toes or break policy.

Working on stage without stagehands will get you immediately on the venue and Local's shit list.  You can walk in, take a look around... but don't open doors, flip switches, plug in things, or go wandering around.  See below.

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Any other words of advice would be great.  Thanks.

Stage hands work in craft departments:  carpentry (anything like risers, curtains, drops, set pieces, wagons), electrics (lights, power tie-in for other departments), properties (band gear, back line, orchestra pit setup of music stands/lights/chairs, backstage water/coffee break stuff, set dressing, actor props, pre-show stage mop), and audio (which includes non-scenic video like conductor camera, stage manager video monitors/backstage cameras, etc).  Wardrobe/hair/makeup is a separate Local in many jurisdictions.  Riggers only do rigging, truck loaders don't work outside of the truck. 

You should advance your show with the venue's technical director, and ask him/her about the local labor call (who makes it, what any contracted minimums (number of workers, hours, etc) are, and if someone other than the local Head Carpenter runs the call.  Note that performances are usually treated differently from move in/set up and move out in terms of rate and period.  Get the name and phone number of the Local's Business Agent or venue representative, call and ask about policies regarding work breaks, meal schedules, whether or not the theater goes "dark" when on break (that means the stage power is turned off), how strictly they work in departments, etc.  And don't do any work on stage while the hands are on break or away from the stage; that will get you on the shit list.

Remember that stage hands are there to help you put on your show in THEIR room.  Putting on shows is what they do for a living.  Come in with courtesy and respect, and don't take anything for granted.  It's always appropriate to ask questions.  Meet the call steward or head carpenter (as appropriate) and direct questions to him/her.  Generally they will refer you to the department head if the questions aren't about carpentry.... "House sound inputs? Let me introduce you to your A1..."  Dead case storage is usually a question for the carpenter.

Above all, have some fun.

Tim McCulloch, Secretary-Treasurer
IATSE Local 190
Wichita KS
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Jens Palm Bacher on November 01, 2012, 08:33:07 pm
Truck loaders, whether IATSE or Teamsters, are the ones who work inside the truck.  They do not work outside the truck.
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.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Jim Roach on November 01, 2012, 08:51:45 pm
It's always better that you can give clear instructions and have them do it than to do it yourself, in any IATSE venue. Get everything prepped in a way that's obvious - colour-code and loom cables, label cases DSR, DSL, USR, USL, FOH, etc.

Plenty of great info here already. I'm a union stagehand A1/rigger and a touring Monitor Engineer. Just because I know how to do your job doesn't mean I know how you do your job. Find the simplest most direct way to tell your local crew how to do what you need. Make sure things are clear and correctly labeled.

Shoot me a PM and let me know where and when you'll be in Philly, who knows, I might be your local A1.

--
Jim
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: kristianjohnsen 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.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Mark McFarlane 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,... 
Title: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Patrick Moore 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! 
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Tim McCulloch 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
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Tim McCulloch 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.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Justice C. Bigler 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 :) )
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: kristianjohnsen 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!




Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: John Roberts {JR} 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


 
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Tim McCulloch 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...
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: John Roberts {JR} 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...
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: kristianjohnsen on November 02, 2012, 06:47:21 pm
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 :) )

I'm all for people specializing and getting really good at stuff.  But still:  Many skills in our business are universal.  When it all comes down to it:  How much mixing do we do compared to lift/move/dress/run cable/pack/unpack/fix/organize/etc?

If someone is great at packing a semi they are usually great at a bunch of other stuff, too :)
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Mikey Brown on November 03, 2012, 12:40:06 am
Andrew hit all the points in the first post. I would really key on your advance, since you are using house rigs. Most venues will have a tech package with the audio specs in it. Ask your TM to get that for you. For the Arenas you may have a choice of vendors or gear availiable in the area, depending on your rider. Review and contact the house A-1 for any questions. You may find you will hear from some of them, before you make contact.  All good , see ya here!
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on November 03, 2012, 01:13:42 pm
If someone is great at packing a semi they are usually great at a bunch of other stuff, too :)

I don't know what it's like in your area, but the guys that load trucks in my town are absolutely NOT qualified to be RF techs, as was the example in the second reply by Scott Carneval, nor are any of the carpenters and almost all of the electricians.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: kristianjohnsen on November 03, 2012, 03:39:09 pm
I don't know what it's like in your area, but the guys that load trucks in my town are absolutely NOT qualified to be RF techs, as was the example in the second reply by Scott Carneval, nor are any of the carpenters and almost all of the electricians.

I think we might just be spoiled.  As a whole, people with truly simple skillsets generally don't work on shows at all.  But I understand that the entire "machine" is a lot bigger in the US so there is probably room for a lot more different folks.

Edit:  Who said they had to be RF techs?  (Well actually, you did). 

I'm just surprised that people would be so nonchalant as was described regarding something that might have stopped the show.  Even if you don't know how to coordinate the entire RF even 8th graders usually understand that a failing mic is a bad thing.  Time to switch to second gear, move that ass, and notify that RF guy!  (Well, that's how we tend to work on shows anyway.  I guess what was described in the post in question works for that venue since that's how they do it).
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 03, 2012, 04:45:25 pm
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57544237/ala-utilities-our-crews-not-turned-away-from-n.j/ (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57544237/ala-utilities-our-crews-not-turned-away-from-n.j/)

offered without comment....

JR
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Roland Clarke on November 04, 2012, 06:22:03 am
A friend of mine who toured the States with Billy Ocean during the 80's told me that you wouldn't believe how it could be with the unions in America in comparison with what we have here in the UK.

He had a situation where he went up on stage and opened up his Saxophone case and was about to take it out for the sound check when a union guy came up and stopped him and told him that he wasn't allowed to remove the sax from it's case and that this stage hand had to do it for him and hand him his saxophone.  Unbelievable!  :o
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on November 05, 2012, 12:14:07 am
He had a situation where he went up on stage and opened up his Saxophone case and was about to take it out for the sound check when a union guy came up and stopped him and told him that he wasn't allowed to remove the sax from it's case and that this stage hand had to do it for him and hand him his saxophone.  Unbelievable!  :o

I call bullshit on this one.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Karl Bader on November 05, 2012, 10:53:08 am
All I can say about Unions is it depends on the crew, it depends on the area... I've had some crews that were awesome, they would work hard, get your stuff in and up. Others, you have to keep an eye on everyone otherwise they'd be slacking off...

A couple of stories:

I was setting up a small roof system and in the middle of raising a tower the union break was called. We had to drop the tower so they could break. We weren't allowed to take 2 minutes, raise the tower and put in 4 bolts...

Another is that we hired a union call and the union steward spent more time advertising with us and our non-union hands his case company... Really it was making it impossible! I have no problem with advertising your company, but please don't sales pitch me while we're trying to load in a show!

And there's of course the usual threatening union guys. I've gotten the, "That's a pretty car out there, wouldn't want anything to happen to it..."

Unions have it's place, and I'm not trying to bash them, but I feel that the grounds have often been overstepped. I was very happy with the DC union and had actually seriously considered joining... Others not so much. I'm not mentioning for obvious reasons...

My 2c.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Art Welter on November 05, 2012, 11:44:38 am
I call bullshit on this one.
Justice,

The current description of the union regimentation in NYC, Phillidelphia, and Chicago seem the same as they were in 1978 when I first encountered them after only working with band roadies and volunteer hands sharing all the work, took a bit of getting used to.

Since then, I have found most IATSE halls to be more similar to Tim McCulloch's example where they do not hire 4 extra audio guys for another 4 hour minimum for 15 minutes of hump work that can be shared by another department.
That said, there have been times when a local union has decided to do everything to the letter of the rule after they have been taken advantage of too much, usually relaxing the rules again after some issue under negotiation has been resolved.
I could easily believe Roland Clarke's example of a musician not being allowed to open his own sax case being the result of some political situation.

Reminds me of the old joke about a dog walking through the loading doors during a cold NYC load in, and taking a dump on stage.

Road manager asks the union steward for it to be removed, a deckhand is called for the task, he refuses, pointing out the crap is on an electrical outlet.
An electrician is called, he won't touch it, says it is steaming,  therefore the props department responsibility.
By the time the prop man arrives, the steam has subsided, he says call a deckhand…

Sometimes we run in to dickheads, they can be promotors or union reps, fortunately dickheads usually don't last very long in the business.

Art
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Riley Casey on November 05, 2012, 12:07:40 pm
My last experience in a right to work state was a multi stage show in a city that builds it's name on the music business.  The non-union stage hands chained smoked and took constant cell phone calls from girlfriends or other employers.  Unless the cigarettes were in their mouths they had no hands to do any work.  On load out I was helping move gear myself to make things go faster as it was an outdoor show and it was raining.  I had fractured my elbow earlier in the summer and upon asking a 'professional' stage hand in 'music city' to use both of his hands as I could only use one of mine his reply was " thats bullshit man". 

I'm happy to comment.  I far prefer an IA crew where ever I go.  Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

 
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57544237/ala-utilities-our-crews-not-turned-away-from-n.j/ (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57544237/ala-utilities-our-crews-not-turned-away-from-n.j/)

offered without comment....

JR
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Mac Kerr on November 05, 2012, 12:10:51 pm
Justice,

The current description of the union regimentation in NYC, Phillidelphia, and Chicago seem the same as they were in 1978 when I first encountered them after only working with band roadies and volunteer hands sharing all the work, took a bit of getting used to.

Since then, I have found most IATSE halls to be more similar to Tim McCulloch's example where they do not hire 4 extra audio guys for another 4 hour minimum for 15 minutes of hump work that can be shared by another department.
That said, there have been times when a local union has decided to do everything to the letter of the rule after they have been taken advantage of too much, usually relaxing the rules again after some issue under negotiation has been resolved.
I could easily believe Roland Clarke's example of a musician not being allowed to open his own sax case being the result of some political situation.

Reminds me of the old joke about a dog walking through the loading doors during a cold NYC load in, and taking a dump on stage.

Road manager asks the union steward for it to be removed, a deckhand is called for the task, he refuses, pointing out the crap is on an electrical outlet.
An electrician is called, he won't touch it, says it is steaming,  therefore the props department responsibility.
By the time the prop man arrives, the steam has subsided, he says call a deckhand…

Sometimes we run in to dickheads, they can be promotors or union reps, fortunately dickheads usually don't last very long in the business.

Art

And dickheads are not unique to unions. I live and work in IATSE Local 1 territory, and have been a member of IATSE Local 353 for 25 years. Sometimes I have to work under a Local 1 contract, sometimes I keep my normal freelance status. I have worked in most of the famously tough union jurisdictions around the USA, including Locals 1, 2, 6, 8, and 33, as well as some of the more open minded like 16 and 671. The worst issue I have run into has been the local stagehands not loading trucks when the production had not hired teamsters, we had to load the trucks ourselves.

How the union stagehands treat you has a lot to do with how you treat them. If you don't bother to find out and follow the local work rules you will not get a lot of extra support. If you understand everyone's responsibilities going in and hire the right number of hands, you will usually find them more than willing to do whatever you ask of them. In most jurisdictions qualified soundmen are a specialty and should be requested as such. I have had soundmen on a call who were capable of (and were required to) mix a show. I have also had soundmen who I would not trust to do anything other than run cable. This has been true with both union and non-union crews.

Every time I work with union hands, and that is more than half the shows I do, there is a cordial relationship between the production and the stagehands. I have also found that generally the quality of worker is better with the union hands. There are some good non-union labor companies out there, but there are also some crappy fly by night non-union labor companies. There are fewer crappy fly by night union crews.

Learn the work rules and follow them, and you will be given a lot more freedom than if you fight them at every turn.

I too call bullshit on the sax case.

Mac

Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Roland Clarke on November 05, 2012, 12:15:17 pm
Justice,

The current description of the union regimentation in NYC, Phillidelphia, and Chicago seem the same as they were in 1978 when I first encountered them after only working with band roadies and volunteer hands sharing all the work, took a bit of getting used to.

Since then, I have found most IATSE halls to be more similar to Tim McCulloch's example where they do not hire 4 extra audio guys for another 4 hour minimum for 15 minutes of hump work that can be shared by another department.
That said, there have been times when a local union has decided to do everything to the letter of the rule after they have been taken advantage of too much, usually relaxing the rules again after some issue under negotiation has been resolved.
I could easily believe Roland Clarke's example of a musician not being allowed to open his own sax case being the result of some political situation.

Reminds me of the old joke about a dog walking through the loading doors during a cold NYC load in, and taking a dump on stage.

Road manager asks the union steward for it to be removed, a deckhand is called for the task, he refuses, pointing out the crap is on an electrical outlet.
An electrician is called, he won't touch it, says it is steaming,  therefore the props department responsibility.
By the time the prop man arrives, the steam has subsided, he says call a deckhand…

Sometimes we run in to dickheads, they can be promotors or union reps, fortunately dickheads usually don't last very long in the business.

Art

I would not have believed it myself if it hadn't been for the fact of who this musician was and that he's been a very good friend of mine for over 30 years.  I suspect that you are totally right in saying that often they are more relaxed than this and probably this occasion happened as a "work to the letter of the contract" reaction, where someone had pushed their luck before.

Over here it is generally a much more all hands too the pump situation, except when it comes to rigging and power where safety is a possible issue.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 05, 2012, 01:25:31 pm
I too have multiple first hand experiences with prosecution of union work rules from a few decades as a customer working trade shows as an exhibitor in union and non-union venues around the world.

I won't submit my full list of grievances but union behavior that I experienced helped mold my personal opinion.

Working trade shows for Peavey, a long time exhibitor, seemed to vary also with the ability of the specific trade show coordinator's (peavey employee) ability to quiet the right squeaky wheels with appropriate lubrication. I recall budgeting in extra show SWAG ( like branded clothing) to be given away to laborers as informal low level bribes. I made a point of not wanting to know about larger pecuniary exchanges (I see nothing :-) ). I do recall one time in NYC, where we had to pay off some union rep to let us move one large recording console out of the Hilton ourself.

I did experience night and day differences between first time show coordinators and those with a few years experience under their belt, with how the game is played. Sometimes the penalty for not playing along was just lost time siting around after the show closed waiting for our empty skids and containers to come back from storage, but other times the impact was more serious with a one of a kind hand-made prototype stolen by union labor just before one show (in Chicago). Because of union rules I was not allowed to hand carry this important prototype between a pre-show venue and the show floor. it never made that short trip, and resurfaced months later, when the unlucky buyer of that radioactive "most wanted" unit tried to get it repaired at a Chicago area Peavey dealer. We even posted a Peavey employee on the loading dock to watch the pre-show gear get loaded onto the truck, but apparently there was opportunity during the service elevator ride to secret the stolen unit on a different floor.

Of course the stolen gear incident is not meant to suggest that all union guys are dishonest, but the theft wouldn't have even been possible if the work rules were not so strictly enforced. FWIW We also hired guards to watch our booth, during the overnight hours that the show is closed to the public, but this also helps prevent mischief from competitors.   
=====

I offered the link to the non-union utility line workers (from AL) discouraged from helping without comment, because it was only one crew and may have been staged for political purposes.

There is a long tradition of utility crews traveling around the country to help out when there are regional natural disasters. After Katrina I appreciated all the out-of-state line crews that came here to help us. In this politically polarized environment I expect this incident will get hyped or discounted depending on personal philosophy (that's why I linked to a CBS report as being more union friendly).

I posted it because it was timely in the context of current events. Hopefully the metropolitan area has all the line repair crews they can use. I have heard reports about other out of state crews, from right to work states helping out there so maybe this was just an isolated case spun up for effect, or other adjustments have been made because of the unfavorable publicity this got. I know there are union accommodations to facilitate non-union workers in emergency situations which this surely qualifies as.

JR
Title: Re: Dealing with Corrupt Labor
Post by: Mac Kerr on November 05, 2012, 01:45:26 pm
I too have multiple first hand experiences with prosecution of union work rules from a few decades as a customer working trade shows as an exhibitor in union and non-union venues around the world.

I won't submit my full list of grievances but union behavior that I experienced helped mold my personal opinion.

Working trade shows for Peavey, a long time exhibitor, seemed to vary also with the ability of the specific trade show coordinator's (peavey employee) ability to quiet the right squeaky wheels with appropriate lubrication. I recall budgeting in extra show SWAG ( like branded clothing) to be given away to laborers as informal low level bribes. I made a point of not wanting to know about larger pecuniary exchanges (I see nothing :-) ). I do recall one time in NYC, where we had to pay off some union rep to let us move one large recording console out of the Hilton ourself.

I did experience night and day differences between first time show coordinators and those with a few years experience under their belt, with how the game is played. Sometimes the penalty for not playing along was just lost time siting around after the show closed waiting for our empty skids and containers to come back from storage, but other times the impact was more serious with a one of a kind hand-made prototype stolen by union labor just before one show (in Chicago). Because of union rules I was not allowed to hand carry this important prototype between a pre-show venue and the show floor. it never made that short trip, and resurfaced months later, when the unlucky buyer of that radioactive "most wanted" unit tried to get it repaired at a Chicago area Peavey dealer. We even posted a Peavey employee on the loading dock to watch the pre-show gear get loaded onto the truck, but apparently there was opportunity during the service elevator ride to secret the stolen unit on a different floor.

Of course the stolen gear incident is not meant to suggest that all union guys are dishonest, but the theft wouldn't have even been possible if the work rules were not so strictly enforced. FWIW We also hired guards to watch our booth, during the overnight hours that the show is closed to the public, but this also helps prevent mischief from competitors.   

Were those corrupt laborers IATSE Stagehands? In New York, most trade show labor is not stagehands, and usually not IATSE. The corrupt labor at Javits, and before that at the NY Coliseum were construction electricians, not stagehands, not IATSE. I think the same may be true in Chicago at McCormick Place. I know at the Arie Crown Theater, which is part of McCormick, the stagehands only have jurisdiction on stage. Out in the house, camera operators for instance are IBEW electricians.

What started as a question about a particular union has swerved into a discussion of unions in general, and like in the non-union world, there are corrupt workers and honest workers everywhere. In general I find IATSE to be not only honest, but easy to work with, and willing to bend the rules unless you have already butted heads with them because you don't like the work rules.

Mac
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: James Feenstra on November 05, 2012, 09:09:56 pm
When dealing with IA I have the following advice:

Get to know the steward on the call or the local BA. They can make your day amazingly smooth or a huge pain in the ass.

Supplying coffee and donuts at load in/first break will make you a lot of friends.

Having everything labeled in common/theatre terms will stop a lot of headaches.

Each venue has it's own specific rules for that venue. You will run into some where you can do whatever you want, and some where you can't do anything except point and give directions. Follow their rules and show respect- if they were in your venue you'd want the same.

Generally IA is pretty easy to work with, and although you'll occasionally run into what I refer to as the 'union attitude', I'd say my experiences with IATSE are in the 90%+ positive range.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on November 05, 2012, 09:37:08 pm
Who is the customer here?

This reminds me of that Seinfeld episode,, "no Soup for you".....

JR
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Mark McFarlane on November 05, 2012, 10:49:40 pm
... We also hired guards to watch our booth, ... but this also helps prevent mischief from competitors.

This brings back many fond memories, ... the mischief was always the best part of the week.
Title: Re: Dealing with IATSE
Post by: Jonathan Kok on November 06, 2012, 11:40:19 pm
I wish I'd asked these questions before my first IATSE experience.  Damn near got banned from the venue.  Seems they don't take too kindly to arriving and finding the truck half unloaded, and monitor world already built...

Lesson learned.

As others have said, having your sh!t together goes a very long way.  Stage plots, input patching, wiring diagrams, DMX addressing, document, document, document.  Frankly, you'll find yourself doing this more and more for non-union shows in the future; you'll be surprised how much easier your job is when half the details aren't in yours or one of your crew's heads.

And again, don't expect one union crew to act the same as another.  Just because it was fine 'over there' doesn't mean it'll be fine at the current venue.  And telling them as much will get you absolutely no-where.

Despite what you may have heard, most union rules are for good reason.  Breaks are there because they're needed, and you should probably take one yourself.  Jobs are kept separate because knowledge is separate. Minimum crew levels is for safety reasons.  Minimum hours keeps quality employees from leaving. 

Oh, and you'll never have seen a show get back into the truck faster than when you tell a union crew it'll be done in under three hours. ;)