Author Topic: To Go Union or Not to Go Union  (Read 4581 times)

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To Go Union or Not to Go Union
« on: Nov 03, 2004, 08:19 pm »
I am going to finally be graduating this April and am facing the big question... now what do I do with my life?  The good news is that I have some options:

Right now I am facing the question - Do I go Union now or wait?  I have a great relationship with a regional theatre who would give me an equity contract if I smiled and winked at them.  That contract would be from May - October 2005.  

However, I am planning a visit to NYC in April to also test the job market there.  I am hoping to send out some resumes beforehand and maybe get some interviews while I am there.  I figured my best chances right out of college would be for non-union tours or something like that.  

So I guess my real question is - do I go union and then try NYC or do I try NYC while non-union?

Anyone have any pointers about that timing or getting a job in the city?


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To Go Union or Not to Go Union
« Reply #1 on: Nov 09, 2004, 09:27 am »
The questions I would ask myself before joining the union would involve my actual reasons for doing so.  Was I doing it because I supported what the union stood for? Or because I wanted the higher pay rate?  Also, do I feel like I'm capable of handling work as a professional stage manager with all of the added duties that AEA or whichever union you choose brings with it?  Maximum calls, riders... it's more than just the equity breaks.  Are the benefits you'll get out of working an AEA contract for five months worth the dues you'll have to pay?

Folks with experience in NYC will give you better opinons of the current scenario there.

I would say, sow your oats and live the life of a non union SM, maybe work as an intern in a couple of union houses to get the feeling of it, while continuing to cultivate your relationship with that Equity house.  That's just my own opinion, though.


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To Go Union or Not to Go Union
« Reply #2 on: Nov 09, 2004, 08:17 pm »
I totally agree, that you need to weigh all these cost/benefit comparisons. I would also add, that being non-union for as long as you can widens your network and makes you available for more work, period, even if it doesn't pay as much as an AEA contract might. The economy is not great, and theatre economies are even worse right now. You would be competing with out-of-work AEA SMs with much more experience and contacts than you have, and that will make it very diffcult to find a job, especially in a saturated market like NYC.
I am a huge advocate for the union, and at the same time I wouldn't have had the full-time PSM job that I've had for the last three years if I'd taken my card for a short-term gig when it was offered.
Just my two cents.


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To Go Union or Not to Go Union
« Reply #3 on: Nov 12, 2004, 11:23 am »
Thanks for the feedback.  

As far as the union baggage goes, I have worked in a union theatre for two years now as a non-union ASM - so I have gotten a sense for the 'union baggage'.  Interestingly, taking in all of the numbers - there are certain gigs which actually pay more being non union - but then there are no protections.  

As I intend to make Stage Management a career (at least for now), I find that the benefits and protections of joining are appealing - but at the same time I don't want to join, then cut off the non-union job market, probably my best chance to get a job coming out of college.


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