Thursday, October 10, 2013

Forbes, October 4, 2013, Friday


October 4, 2013, Friday

Forbes (full article)

Why Should Stage Hands At Carnegie Hall Make $400,000?

But for context, I talked to three labor scholars who told me a different story. Lois Spier Gray, an economist, emeritus professor at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and co-author of Under the Stars: Essays on Labor Relations in Arts and Entertainment, says that IATSE is a century old and has built its bargaining power on its members’ skills. “They cannot be replaced by ordinary carpenters or electricians,” she says. To those like the Journal, who think the stage hands’ salaries are unfair, she says, “These labor disputes aren’t settled by who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s a bargaining situation and the employer, Carnegie Hall, wants the cooperation of the stagehands in exchange for their work.”

Though the stagehands’ salaries seem high, it’s tough to argue that any business, including Carnegie Hall, is powerless when it comes to negotiating with unions these days. Besides, as Cornell professor Ileen DeVault points out, most of us don’t begrudge the huge salaries of unionized NFL and Major League Baseball players  At the risk of inviting angry comments from Forbes readers, I’d say that Local One’s members have achieved the American dream, working their way through the echelons of the middle class to a level on par with Carnegie Hall’s wealthy donors. Is that such a terrible thing?