Is now the best time for this?
According to this New York Times article, Local 1 made a move on The Joyce Theater this week, in an attempt to organize and unionize the stagehands at the 472 seat theater in Chelsea.
Now, I’m not a Press Agent, but . . . in 2009, in the midst of the current economic crisis, with non profits closing their doors almost as fast as car dealerships, and with staff members all over the world making sacrifices to keep their jobs (including the employees of the NY Times), and with the NEA reporting double-digit rates of decline in arts-related attendance, does this seem like the right time for a big and powerful union to try to organize a 472 seat theater, home to a modern dance company?
I think if I were leading the Local, I would have held back for awhile. I’ll admit, I don’t know the status of the Joyce’s finances. Maybe they are in a position to afford the Local? Maybe the Local has agreed that the organization wouldn’t cost them a penny more than they are currently paying?
But it certainly seems a bit odd, doesn’t it?
Let me be clear, I am a member of two performing arts unions, and I believe that without a doubt our union workers, on and off the stages, in the pits and in the dressing rooms, are the best in the biz. The problem is, the “best” come at a premium, as they should.
Whether that premium can be afforded in all places is another matter altogether.