Author Topic: Las Vegas and unions  (Read 4645 times)

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debos23

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Las Vegas and unions
« on: Aug 23, 2007, 11:42 am »
Howdy!  I have decided to move to Vegas and I'm curious about union contracts out there (Equity and IATSE).   What's your experience been?  Are all the casinos unionized?   Any info & stories you can share are extremely appreciated!   

If there's already a topic built on this question, please let me know.  Thanks!

GalFriday

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #1 on: Aug 23, 2007, 01:24 pm »
Vegas is a right to work state so there are equity & IATSE member on non-union shows. Cirque being the biggest example. Cirque has been traditionally non-union but the new show at the Luxor will fall under an IATSE contract. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

Producers, Phantom, Mama Mia - and I am sure Jersey Boys when they open next year - are Equity contracts. I have no info there except what is under the Casino contract on the Equity website. I try to avoid reading that. It just makes me jealous  :).

 - Dani
"Now the best way to learn the theater, always, is to be a stage manager" - Stephen Sondheim

chops

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #2 on: Oct 06, 2007, 11:21 pm »
So what exactly do you want to know about unions?  I am currently in the middle of negotiating an IATSE contract. 
Peace,

Chops

debos23

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #3 on: Oct 10, 2007, 08:12 pm »
Hi, Chops!  Thanks for replying to my post.    I'm wondering if there's a large union presence (AEA & IATSE) out there, or if union work is only a small percentage of the work being done.  Dani mentioned that Nevada is a right-to-work state, so how much does union status matter?   If one were interested in working on an Equity contract, is it difficult to get on a show?   My assumption is that there's little turnover on union gigs (both AEA and IATSE).  Is my assumption correct?

chops

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #4 on: Oct 19, 2007, 11:31 pm »
debos,

Well, where to start?  I only know about the union situations in Las Vegas and primarally the casino world so everything following is pertaining to shows and union situations in casinos.  There are many wonderful smaller theatres around but not to many large shows happen in them.  I also can't go into a lot of detail but i'll give you the gist of things and should be able to answer your question.  I'm going to go into a little bit of history here.  As far as speculation goes, Las Vegas was founded by the mafia.  Just watch "Casino" sometime.  Unions were also supposedly influenced by the mafia.  So Las Vegas has become a town heavily influenced by the Unions.  IATSE has a fairly large presence but does not have a monopoly on the stagehand gigs around town.  I would say that IATSE accounts for about 30 percent of the stagehand and theatrical work done around town.  As far as AEA goes, there is minimal presence.  There are many properties who use independant or in house stagehands.  I believe that the Blue Man Group is currently in litigation over them refusing to use union labor. 

When working with IATSE there is extreemely low turn over when it comes to being a perminate employee on a specific property.  Some places have the same crew doing the same show for over five years.  However once you are part of the union you can always go out on the bounce and pick up random work almost daily.  One recomendation that I can make is that if you do join IATSE take as many training classes through the union as possible.  They only cost you your time and will allow you to work more gigs and possibly at a higher rate of pay.  Basically when you first join you will be out on the bounce until a new show comes into town and the property steward decides to put you on it.  Being on the bounce means that you are filling in positions here and there and doing a lot of load ins for conventions and touring shows.  But you will be making fairly good money.  The Local 720 allows its members to work outside of the union as well so you can always pick up other gigs on the side as long as you are paying your dues. 

If you are just moving to town or just starting out I would recomend joining the union to get to know the ropes and get some credibility around town.  You get into a great social network and start to find out about job openings here and there.  After a while you may decide to leave the union or you might stay with them. 

As far as stage manager positions go, they are almost impossible to get.  The possition of SM is not a union possition and it really depends on the house and the produciton as to who's employee they are.  Your best chance of getting a traditional SM position is to get on board with a produciton that is comming to Vegas and hasn't found a home yet.  I get about five pitches a day so I know that they are out there.  In that case you would be the SM for the production and paid by the producer.  You would work with the venue's stage manager or entertainment director who would give direction to the stagehands and anything you needed done to the theatre.  As far as Casino or venue SM's go, well there is extreemely low turn over and to tell you the truth I have no idea how to go about getting a job like that.  It seems that this entire town is based on relationships so start at the bottom and pay your dues.  Even if you have to do it all over again.  But keep an eye out for job postings and something will pop up.  I'll keep an eye out for positions and post them if they pop up but i havn't seen anyting in a while.  I really don't know if I have answered your question but I made it look like I wrote a lot so hopefully people will think that there is alot of prudent information in the above paragraphs.  And I know that I have been fairly vauge and topical so let me know what other information I can give you. 

peace,

chops
Peace,

Chops

GalFriday

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #5 on: Oct 19, 2007, 11:54 pm »
I would agree there is very little turnover in the SM positions on the shows. Positions are occasionally listed on the Casino websites. Those will be under Casino employee contracts and most already have someone in mind when they are posted. The Equity shows are pretty tight. A friend of mine was just hired on Jersey Boys but she knew the PSM. I do not know that they interviewed anyone else. She was not Equity and had been with Cirque for five years. There have been quite a few hirings of ASM's at Cirque lately and I would suspect that will be calm now for a bit. I will certainly keep my ear to the rails - however my ear returns to Europe in about a week so I am not sure how much I will hear.

Good Luck  - Dani
"Now the best way to learn the theater, always, is to be a stage manager" - Stephen Sondheim

chops

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #6 on: Oct 20, 2007, 01:32 am »
Cirque was doing a lot of staffing I hear and they even brought in some new people.  I hear there will be a build in Febuary and an opening in spring but that is just in the rumor mill. 
Peace,

Chops

debos23

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Re: Las Vegas and unions
« Reply #7 on: Oct 29, 2007, 11:20 am »
Thanks so much for your responses, guys.   This info is definitely helpful.   I have interviewed for an ASM position at Cirque, and am waiting to hear back results.   Packing up the moving truck this afternoon and headed west tomorrow.   See you all soon!

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