Author Topic: A Straight Seven  (Read 6773 times)

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MatthewShiner

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A Straight Seven
« on: Oct 08, 2005, 12:05 am »
Damn Equity for not having a 24-hour "non-emergency but just an annoying question" hotline.  But this group is good enough.

I am currently working on a production that due to actors rolling over from a show currently running, plus a lot of conflicts, we are severly limited in times we can rehearse - so much that we are taking 2 days off this weekend.

Anyway, today I scheduled a straight seven.  (A stright seven you ask?  How does one do this - I shall explain.)  I want it to be clear there is both an Equity SM and ASM on this show.  The theatre did not tell us to do this.  The director did not ask, I offered.  (I figured since I we only reheased four hours yesterday, and off Saturday and Sunday, and extra hour within the magic hours was pretty harmless.)  I did tell my assistant last night I was scheduling a stright seven, and he needed to take a break when ever he wanted to.

I opted to not take a break.

Note:  No single actor was called more then 3 hours, it was just a bunch of staggered calls.  

Then tonight my assistant pointed out the following rule  (LORT CONTRACT PEOPLE, TURN IN YOUR RED HYMNALS . . . ):

Rule 62. STAGE MANAGERS AND ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGERS
 
(I) Working Conditions for Stage Managers and Assistant Stage Managers.

(1) The Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager must be present at all rehearsals  and performances.  The Theatre shall not require members of the Equity Stage Managerial staff to absent themselves from rehearsals or performances.

His take on this - and I see his point of view, I just don't agree with it -  is that by asking him to take a lunch break during rehearsal, in essecence I am "require himself to absent himself from rehearsal".  (note:  he did not take a lunch break - nor did I require him absent himself, he work thru, like I chose to work thru - mind you we had 4 20-minute breaks, so don't think we working ourselves to death.)  I would just expect us each to take our hour break at different times.

Now, I have always scheduled in such creative ways, as long as each individual was within the rules.  I feel that it's part of my style to get as much in as little time as possible.  But I am just that way.

What does everyone else think?  Is my assistant entitled to overtime?  Does anyone else do what I do?

Help.

(Note:  I will contact my business rep and check in on Tuesday . . . damn columbus holiday.)
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

DeeCap

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A Straight Seven
« Reply #1 on: Oct 08, 2005, 09:36 am »
I whipped out my battered Equity book to page 78 (J) (3) (b)

Each Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager shall have a meal break of no less than one hour during each work day at appropriate interval.

Isn't that what you gave him was an hour lunch? If he chose not to take the lunch, then he shouldn't get the overtime.

smejs

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A Straight Seven
« Reply #2 on: Oct 08, 2005, 10:15 am »
My take on it is that just like you overlap actors so some take breaks while others work, that's what you were trying to do here.  The THEATRE didn't ask BOTH of you to absent yourselves from rehearsal, you would've been taking turns....and isn't that part of why you have an ASM on contract, so that someone can leave the room at times?  The contract states "The Stage Manager OR Assistant Stage Manager must be present,"  it doesn't say both at once.

It would be one thing if (like has happened to me before) the PRODUCERS ask you to leave rehearsal so you don't go into overtime and are left with no one in the rehearsal hall watching things - which I think is totally wrong.  Maybe next time you just schedule a break for each of you..even so much as to put it on the schedule in case some actor/Equity Deputy should start to get involved.  

That said, yes, it is hard to pull yourself away from a rehearsal if you're going to "miss something" and I can see the dilemma.  But sometimes you're due a break, and if someone else is in the room to keep you informed, well, it's easier to take a break.

Of course, this is all pending what the Equity rep tells you.

Erin

loebtmc

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A Straight Seven
« Reply #3 on: Oct 08, 2005, 12:41 pm »
that's just it - as long as ONE of you is there, the rehearsal is covered (unless you are using two different sites and the ASM is at one and you at the other). It doesn't say you both need to be there.

We do these amazing things with calendars to get in all the rehearsal time necessary and staggering the SM lunch breaks so you get a meal (or to pick one up and bring it  back to eat at your desk) is totally appropriate; if your ASM chose to stay instead of taking a meal break, that ASM is NOT entitled to overtime -

And maybe next time you each take a staggered meal break so there is no questions.

VSM

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A Straight Seven
« Reply #4 on: Oct 08, 2005, 12:42 pm »
Great discussion!
Please do let us know what the Equity Rep tells you.

Since you created the staggered schedule that did allow for 4 - 20 minute breaks, it seems that neither you nor your ASM was unduly taken advantage of. And unless there was a rehearsal taking place with no SM present, then you were covered. Technically however, you were in violation of the rehearsal rules which do not allow for any rehearsal longer than 6 consecutive hours (the Straight Six needs a prior vote and only costume or photo calls can be added to the 5 hour slot).

That said, we do what we have to do to get the show up.

Technically, I believe the ASM may be due OT as he/she did not create the schedule, just adhered to it.
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MatthewShiner

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Hmmmm
« Reply #5 on: Oct 08, 2005, 08:22 pm »
Interesting Point VSM -

Although the day before I told him to take an hour long break during the day when he wanted, since I was not scheduling an hour long break without rehearsal.

I think it would have helped if both he and I left for the hour.  

As far as violating a six hour rehearsal day - no one single actor was called more then 3 hours - other then SM.  I am pretty sure that all rules are PER actor - for example - if I had 3 equity SMs, I could rehearse 24 hours a day, as long as no single equity member was in vilolation of their rules.  Right?

That is always as I have schedule.

I will post an update (from the east coast lort rep) on Tuesday.

But I appreicate the input.
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RuthNY

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A STRAIGHT SEVEN
« Reply #6 on: Oct 09, 2005, 10:26 am »
A very interesting discussion!  Just when I thought there was nothing new I could learn about this contract, I find I am dead wrong.
 
I always thought that tag-teaming stage managers on long or staggered rehearsal days was BUSINESS AS USUAL/STANDARD PROCEDURE.  I' d never noticed that rule about producers not being able to require SM's to leave a rehearsal or performance.  Gee, isn't that kind of creative scheduling (to avoid overtime and invasion of meals) what we are supposed to do?  I'm going to have to check some other rule books to see if the same rule exists on other contracts where staggered/long rehearsal days are the norm!  If the director/choreographer has the energy, it's done all the time.  

I'll be very curious as what the LORT desk says to you.  And not just about your seven hour scenario, but about tag-teaming in general.

Ruth
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MatthewShiner

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more thoughts
« Reply #7 on: Oct 09, 2005, 01:35 pm »
I think it is important to note the requiring the sm to absent themselves is the second sentance.  I think the more important sentence is the first one; if they required both of them to be there, would they not say AND vs OR.  I think the second sentence modifies the first.  

I will report back on Tuesday . . . I am sure they will have a different reading I have not even thought of.


(1) The Stage Manager or Assistant Stage Manager must be present at all rehearsals and performances. The Theatre shall not require members of the Equity Stage Managerial staff to absent themselves from rehearsals or performances.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

hbelden

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the intent as well as the letter of the law
« Reply #8 on: Oct 09, 2005, 03:13 pm »
I have the same belief as Matt regarding the staggering of breaks - I mostly make use of it around the ten-minute-break rule.  But I disagree with the idea of taking an hour break at some point during a 7-hour rehearsal.  I think that, when you schedule a straight 6, you're setting the span-of-day (Rule 49.C.1). Staggering the SM calls in this situation would, I think, be more like PSM in rehearsal from 12-6pm and ASM in rehearsal from 1-7pm.  (You could still take the 20-minute-break at the same time.)  I think if you set the span-of-day from 12pm-7pm for each of you, you're infringing on that rule.

Also, as a rule, I'm disturbed by SMs working through breaks on a regular basis.  Yes, I think we all need to be able to Keifer Sutherland our way through a hellish last day of tech, but if I routinely work eight to ten hours without stopping, I won't have the resources to do that at crunch time.

I also want to avoid this unspoken competition amongst SM teams - "I won't be the first one to leave/break/stand and stretch".  How could that possibly be healthy?  But I've found myself doing it more than once.
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MatthewShiner

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working thru break
« Reply #9 on: Oct 09, 2005, 08:43 pm »
I often find myself working thru lunch break so I don't have to work later in the evening.  Having a dog, a life-partner outside of work - working an additional hour at the end of the day is much more disturbing then working during lunch.  Working thru lunch is my choice.

I have always thought of span of day being per actor thing . . . . not so much for the whole company.  I often do straight sixes for some actors, but then a 8 for other actors.  (It all basically boils down to staggered calls, and trying to fit in costume fittings on big shows.)

I have never read anywhere where the span of day needs to apply to the whole company.  

Basically what I schedules was a 6 out 7, when staggered dinner breaks for the SM - I am still not sure I find anything that would be against that.  Heath mentioned "Staggering the SM calls in this situation would, I think, be more like PSM in rehearsal from 12-6pm and ASM in rehearsal from 1-7pm. (You could still take the 20-minute-break at the same time.) I think if you set the span-of-day from 12pm-7pm for each of you, you're infringing on that rule. "- basically that's what I did, for all intensive purposes.  But the ASM refused to take a break since there was still rehearsal going on and he thought that by having him take a break, he was being asked "to absent himself from rehearsals or performances" for which he thinks the rule forbids, even though there was an AEA SM in the hall at the time being.

Again, I can not wait until Tuesday to make this call.
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loebtmc

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A Straight Seven
« Reply #10 on: Oct 10, 2005, 08:05 pm »
Quote
But the ASM refused to take a break since there was still rehearsal going on and he thought that by having him take a break, he was being asked "to absent himself from rehearsals or performances" for which he thinks the rule forbids, even though there was an AEA SM in the hall at the time being.


see, if you offered him his lunch break and he refused, then he isn't eligible for OT - it isn't absenting yourself from reh if you are staggering breaks - the rule is really abt any ONE SM rep being there, not both of you (so you could just as well have gone and eaten, leaving him to run reh) - your dept handles its own breaks while making sure everyone else has theirs.

good luck....break a finger - and tell the asm that when you tell him to go to lunch, he goes! (I have done this w my reluctant assistants in the past - sometimes I force the issue by asking them to bring me back something)

MatthewShiner

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Equity Weighs In
« Reply #11 on: Oct 11, 2005, 10:34 am »
I spoke to Equity this morning . . .

Equity sides with me; the scheduling of SM staggered breaks is fine as long as one member of Equity is in the rehearsal at any given time.

So, yes, you could scheduled 16 hours of rehearsal in a day; the SM taking the first 8; the ASM taking the last 8.

Thus endeth that.

(Can't wait until the next drama . . . stay tuned.  But big thanks for everyone who weighed in on my concerns)
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StageMgrJon

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Equity Weighed In Light
« Reply #12 on: Oct 11, 2005, 02:01 pm »
I can say that I have had multiple rulings on this exact issue regarding the LORT contract, Production Contract, and NEAT Contract.

I would love to know the name of the business rep that you talked to that stated it was ok to schedule staggered breaks, because according to everyone that I have heard from, it is incorrect.

The spirit of the rule (IN LORT ONLY) is this:  NO member of the Stage Management staff can be "directed" to absent themselves from rehearsal for the financial benefit of the theatre.  This is a straight overtime issue and work issue.

The central issue is that for financial benefit (read savings of overtime to the theatre) a theatre company could pressure an SM to take a meal break while rehearsal is going on.  The ASM takes rehearsal, but the SM is missing information that they will need later to maintain the show.  Same thing in reverse, an ASM has to be able to step in at any time should the SM not be able to make work (sick, etc.), and needs all the information.

I have had multiple rulings on this issue in LORT from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York business reps.  I have also spoken with a couple of  Equity LORT negotiators on this.  This particular sentence was worked into the LORT contract because it is rare to have an ASM in LORT, and they did not want someone besides the Equity Member determining what their job required of them.

The only way the ASM should NOT receive overtime in this instance, is if they are offered the meal break and the ASM opts to take it.

As I said, only true for LORT.  That is why it is done in NY all the time, I did it all the time under Production.

MatthewShiner

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business rep
« Reply #13 on: Oct 11, 2005, 07:28 pm »
I am hesitant to give out a name since it was a verbal ruling over the phone.  If it was a written ruling, I would give it out.

Fundementally, it does come down to who the business rep is at the time; but I have done thus both under LORT West Coast and LORT East Coast without a problem; maybe a written ruling would be in order.

I think if indeed the letter of the rule was that both needed to be in rehearsal, the first sentance should state "Stage Manager and Assistant Stage Manager".

I don't disagree with the fact the the SM and ASM are missing information; but all of that can be communicated at the end of the break.  (What about rehearsals where you have fight work and scene work going on in different rooms, or an assistant director working in another space . . . we have to bring each other up to speed.)


I think the rule is based on the fact that an Equity SM needs to be in rehearsal at all times.  (Or at least in the building . . . in  the cast you have 3 rehearsals going on at once - I do not think an Equity Member needds to sit on Vocal Work . . . that would be just silly.)

And in some cases it is not a financial benefit, it could be a benefit to the SM team to get out earlier or the abillity to schedule a production meeting butting up against a straight six.  At times my number one goal in my life is to keep my span of day down.
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

SM_Art

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« Reply #14 on: Oct 11, 2005, 10:32 pm »
"So, yes, you could scheduled 16 hours of rehearsal in a day; the SM taking the first 8; the ASM taking the last 8."

Don't you EVER let a producer or director see this....  It may be technically correct, but they'll find a way to demand it before long, and we've fought too hard over too long to go back to square one.

Anyone think I'm kidding?

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