Two different picket lines are marching across NYC right now. One is the Writer’s strike which most people would think is isolated in California, but which in actuality is also striking NYC. Pickets can be seen in front of all the major networks, and local shows like David Letterman have shut down production. The other is of course the Stagehands Union, which has been threatened both as a strike and as a lockout for months now.

The Writers Guild has clear and supportable demands. Watch this to better understand what they are asking for. What is basically boils down to is that they want to be paid for a huge new revenue stream that the studios are exploiting but refusing to pay them for. The writers agreed to a paycut in the late 80s with the agreement that they would eventually get that money back after the fledgling home video market got on it’s feet. Well… I think that time has passed. All those streaming videos found online at the various network websites? They get paid NOTHING for that. Easy to see why they are picketing.

The Stagehands on the other hand are asking for things like a clause that requires a fly operator (the person who controls scenery that “flies” or goes up into the fly loft) on shows… even on shows that have no flying scenery… to remain in their contract. They also have the right to control how many of their workers show up at a load in (the day a show moves into a theatre), no matter how big or small the show is. In other words whether the show has 20 trucks worth of scenery or just 1 the same number of workers is required by the union at the same rate. Much harder to have sympathy for in my opinion.

The stagehand strike is costing the city 17 Million dollars a day, it is harder to calculate what the writer’s strike might be costing us but I’m sure the theatre owners were hoping to grab a piece of it by luring people away from inevitable reruns and into the theatre district.

2 Comments so far

  1. Lady (unregistered) on November 12th, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

    I totally get the writer’s issues. But I’m a little perplexed by the stagehands. Does this mean they want to be paid for jobs that don’t need them? If so, I’d love to be paid for jobs that don’t need me too. If not, what are the issues? Benefits, hourly wage, etc.?

  2. Cully (unregistered) on November 12th, 2007 @ 9:37 pm

    To be fair the stagehands may have some points. Their argument is that if the Theatre Owners are allowed to set the number of workers at a load in they would probably set number too low for safety standards considering the size of some of the scenery in today’s shows. They also argue that the owners are making unreasonable demands about shift lengths. They also are upset that the rise in prices (base price for tickets is up to $125 these days) have not resulted in raises for them. I don’t know, I’ve heard a lot from both sides and I’m still mostly on the side of the owners in this one. For some more info on the issues at hand check this article:

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