Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Show Must Go On

The head of a stagehands union dropped the ball when asked to comment about a story in the New York Times.

The thrust of the story is that set schleppers can make a ton of money.  How much?  The five full-time stagehands at Carnegie Hall each pull in more than $400,000 a year -- more money than the President of the United States.

The Times story goes on in some detail about the staggering sums earned by members of Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

What caught our eye was this part of the story where the journalists tried and failed to get James J. Claffey Jr, he union's boss, to comment. Here is Claffey's response:
While I can appreciate your obligation to report to your readers,” he wrote in an email, “I sincerely hope you can appreciate my obligation to represent the membership of Local 1. The story you wish to do will not serve my union or my members well.”
Claffey is essentially admitting that the facts don't look good for his side -- so he is refusing to play a role. Bad move.

We're betting applications for apprenticeships at Local 1 are about to skyrocket. But in any case Claffey blew a chance to serve his present union members. His asserting that commenting would not be good for his union all but admits that his members practically rip off the arts.

A scene from a stagehand strike earlier this year

Our rule is that you can always find something useful to say. He could have simply stated:

"Our members are appropriately compensated because their ingenuity and creativity adds to the sparkle and thrills that customers demand when they attend world-class theatrical productions."
We preach that yo do not have to hold a news conference -- or answer every question a reporter might have but you should not remain mute -- or it will go over with a thud.


john mccandless said...

Great column and advice, Bill. Best regards, John McCandless

john mccandless said...

Great column and advice, Bill. Best regards, John McCandless