The industry has a lot of big negotiations coming up in the next year or two, including Local 1 (stagehands) and 802 (musicians). We’ve had a tough last decade, with both of those unions going on strike after impasse was reached. And when someone goes on strike, guess who wins? Nobody. Guess who loses? Everybody, especially our audience.
So, as chatter starts up about the upcoming sit-downs, I started thinking about ways we could make the talks go smoother. And the first idea to pop in my head was to . . . well . . . trade jobs for a day.
That’s right . . . I’m proposing that 3 months prior to a negotiation, League Members should switch jobs with a member of the union that they are going to negotiate with (or at least follow them around for awhile). So a producer should work a load-in, and a stagehand should try to find a star for a play. A producer should go on a call back, and an actor should try and get someone to invest $100,000 in a show. And so on.
One of the first rules of every negotiation is to try to imagine the other person’s position . . . this would give the negotiators the actual experience of the “other man’s shoes” and hopefully create empathy on both sides. And then, if all goes according to plan, agreement could be reached just a teensy bit faster, and with less angst.
It’s simple and a bit hokey, but hey, so are half the musicals out there, and we’ve got no problem with those.
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