Providing Professional Entertainment Technical Personnel in Rhode Island

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We are Local #23 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. For 120 years, we are the crews who have been working behind the scenes,  at

– Providence Performing Arts Center 
– Dunkin Donuts Center
– Veterans Memorial Auditorium
– Rhode Island Convention Center

other venues throughout Rhode Island

-The Ryan Center at URI Kingston, RI
-Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI
-Newport Yachting Center, Newport, RI

 

We provide professionals skilled in

-Rigging
-Lighting
-Audio
-Carpentry
-Production

 

Contact our Business Agent Peter Vecchio  
or phone: (401) 209-4177 to discuss what we can do for you.
Click here to Read more about us…

How Live Nation Exploits Low Wage Workers To Stage Some Of Its Rock Concerts

Thirty-six hours at Bonnaroo, the massive Tennessee music festival, sounds like a great way to spend a June weekend. Unless you’re working backstage without breaks, fighting exhaustion, because one of your colleagues called in sick and there’s nobody else to fill in — like Katherine Walding did last summer.

“To say that I was potentially a danger to my crew is an understatement,” says Walding, a stagehand with a company called Crew One, which staffs rock concerts and festivals across the South. “That’s what you do if you want to get paid. It’s all you can do.”

At $10 an hour with no benefits, it hardly seems worth the effort. Especially when you’re called in just for a four-hour shift, which is more common than the marathon Walding pulled at Bonnaroo last year. Walding said she doesn’t feel safe, with low-paid, sometimes inexperienced people working on vertiginous, electrified sets.

The problem is, Walding doesn’t actually work for Crew One. AC Entertainment, Bonnaroo’s producer, pays the staffing agency to work its sets. In turn, the company brings on independent contractors, who aren’t entitled to many of the protections employees enjoy, such as workers compensation and health insurance. They’re basically on their own.

It’s a familiar story in the modern economy, where layers of corporate insulation separate workers from the entity that actually calls the shots. In the entertainment industry, the main union representing backstage labor — the 122,000-strong International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — worries the model might expand further, driving down salaries and cutting the number of hours available for their members.

“The problem with Crew One, is that for them, it’s better to spread the work among a much broader pool of workers than to concentrate it among a smaller group,” says Dan Di Tolla, an IATSE organizer in Atlanta. “We want to keep the pool of workers commensurate to the amount of work there is.”

AC Entertainment isn’t IATSE’s main target, however. Rather, the union is taking on a higher profile client of Crew One’s: Live Nation, the nation’s biggest concert promoter.  In more than a dozen cities, Live Nation employs stagehands directly through union contracts, which set salaries at least twice as high as what Crew One pays. But in a handful of places — including Atlanta, where Walding lives — Live Nation promotes at venues that use staffing agencies like Crew One. (Crew One and Live Nation declined requests for comment.)

This week, the union is going to start making some noise on the issue with the ultimate customer — concertgoers. It’s planning a Web site and social media campaign targeting ticketholders, and at upcoming shows for Maroon 5 and Billy Joel, it plans to hand out flyers juxtaposing the profits Live Nation makes off its audience with the low wages that Crew One’s workers receive for putting on the show.

“The way these labor contractors do business is something that they couldn’t possibly do if concert promoters were not complicit,” Di Tolla says. That’s consistent with how the National Labor Relations Board has been looking at contracting lately: The company ordering up the work, whether Live Nation or a franchisor like McDonald’s, should be responsible for the conditions of the people who carry it out, the federal agency’s general counsel has said.

As part of its pitch to the public, the union claims that a show run by independent contractors isn’t as safe because it’s difficult to ensure those workers have the necessary skills or experience; independent contractors aren’t allowed to receive training on the job. Katherine Walding, for example, had lots of experience building sets when she got hired at Crew One — her last job was at a haunted house in Atlanta. But when she showed up to her first gig, an Arcade Fire concert, they put her on the lighting team instead.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” Walding recalls. “I don’t do lights. I’m a carpenter.”

Fortunately, a sympathetic colleague showed her the ropes — literally — and she eventually got to be pretty good at laying cable and moving lights. But she’s disturbed that what happened to her seems more the norm than the exception at Crew One.  “Every time I show up to a work site,” she says, “you have all these new kids coming in and don’t know anything.”

IATSE’s line of argument parallels a strong push for higher safety standards in the live show industry, which weathered a series of tragic accidents over the past decade. Event planners say the independent contractor model is falling out of favor because it’s more difficult to ensure that workers are properly certified and insured for the jobs they’re doing. “I think this is absolutely something that the industry is coming to terms with, slowly,” says Steve Lemon, a show manager in Los Angeles who serves as a director of the Event Safety Alliance. “But there are still those wildcats out there.”

The funny thing is, IATSE shouldn’t have to be protesting at all. Staff at Crew One have already voted to join the union. But so far, the company has managed to avoid signing a contract.

How did that happen? In order to hold an election, IATSE had to argue that Crew One’s workers are actually employees, since the company tells them exactly what to do when, and for how much (evidence provided in court also showed that out of the 464 workers Crew One used in 2013, only 47 were paid more than $10,000 over the course of the whole year). Late last year, the NLRB agreed and ordered a vote, which the union won.

But it’s really hard to force an employer to treat its employees like employees if it doesn’t want to. Crew One has refused to bargain with the union, and last week it appealed the NLRB’s final decision to the 11th Circuit Court, which could take months or years to resolve.

From Crew One’s perspective, avoiding a union might make sense. The way the live entertainment industry is structured, IATSE effectively works as its own staffing agency, supplying workers who become the employees of the venues covered by its contract. If Crew One’s workers were unionized, the company itself would be redundant (in fact, one of the company’s legal arguments is that the union shouldn’t be able to represent its employees, since it’s also a competitor).

Take it from Jahn “Boxer” Hardison, who owns a non-union event staffing company based in Los Angeles called Bigger Hammer Production Services. He hires all his workers as employees — “If you tell an employee what to do and when to be there, they’re an employee,” he says matter-of-factly — and starts them at $19 an hour, plus benefits. (Some of them prefer that to working for the stagehands union, he says, which has a strict seniority system for doling out jobs.) Organizing Crew One, Hardison thinks, could just be a way of driving out the competition.

“[IATSE] would love to organize them and put them out of business,” Hardison says. “I would be shocked if that’s not their goal.”

Direct union jobs seem like a huge step up for Walding, who’s been trying to get her membership card so she can work at venues in Atlanta that pay much better. But until that happens, she’ll keep picking up Crew One gigs — her husband lost his job at Sprint a few weeks ago, making her the only breadwinner for them and their 11-year-old daughter.

“And I’m sitting here saying, ‘we need this,’” she says. “We can’t do our jobs to the best of our ability.”

ETCP credit rigging classes Boston area

For information regarding financial aid avalable for these rigging classes, please contact the Local 23 business Agent, Mike Araujo, at  .

Here is a link to this on the United Staging Website

Outdoor Structure Workshop & Rigging Training- Boston, MA March 2014

United Staging is very pleased to announce this upcoming training event to be held in the Greater Boston area during the month of March
This workshop will include two related training subjects, both ETCP certified and accredited and available individually as two-day classes or combined into one complete four day workshop at a discounted cost.
The event will commence on Tuesday March 11th with a two-day entertainment rigging class, followed by a two-day outdoor structure and truss workshop on the Thursday and Friday of the same week.

Both sections of the workshop, the rigging class and the structure class, are ETCP approved training programs and will therefore provide qualified attendees with renewal credits towards their rigging qualification renewal.  Attending the rigging class will provide 16 ETCP renewal credits, with the structure class providing an additional 13 credits.  Attendees that participate in both will receive the combined amount of 29 credits.

Day 1 & 2 Entertainment Rigging – Available indivdually or combined with Days 3 & 4

The class will be taught by Ethan Gilson, a graduate of Emerson College (BFA, Performing Arts) and an ETCP Certified Rigger (Arena & Theatre) since its inception in 2005.  In addition to being the staff rigger at ALPS, Ethan is an ETCP Recognized Trainer, has spoken at the USITT and LDI conferences and taught entertainment rigging throughout the country to a variety of industry individuals, businesses, and labor organizations. Ethan is a voting member of the PLASA Technical Standards Rigging Working Group where he currently chairs the E1.39 Task Group, which is charged with creating the first standard recommending proper fall arrest use within the entertainment industry. Over the years, the range of venues Ethan has worked in includes theatres, ballrooms, convention centers, arenas, Las Vegas hotels, and outdoor festivals.
This two-day class covers OSHA law, rigging hardware, rigging math, and more. This class is ideally combined with the following Total Structures outdoor structure and truss class, creating one of the most comprehensive educational classes offered in the entertainment rigging industry.


www.entertainmentriggingsessions.com

Day 3 Outdoor Structure Engineering Principles and E1.21 Review and Compliance – Available with Day 4 or combined with days 1 & 2

Taught by Jeff Reder, Principal and Partner in Clark-Reder Engineering, a full service consulting engineering firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jeff and his business partner, Daniel Clark, presently hold licenses in 44 U.S. states and are highly experienced in the design and use of both aluminum and steel outdoor stage roof and ground support systems. 
Throughout the course of the day Jeff will explain the process of structurally engineering a temporary outdoor structure, provide guidance on how to read such reports as well as help the attendees develop and perfect important operational documentation such as operating manuals, high wind speed action plans, etc. 
Focus will also be brought on explaining relevant standards such as ANSI E1.2 – 2012 (Entertainment Technology – Design, Manufacture and Use of Aluminum Trusses and Towers) and ANSI E1.21 – 2006 (Temporary Ground Supported Overhead Structures Used to Cover Stage Areas and Support Equipment in the Production of Entertainment Events).  E1.21 will be updated in the very near future to cover nearly all outdoor structures used in the production industry (not just roof systems) and Jeff can help you understand what that may mean for your business or working environment.

www.clark-reder.com

Day 4 Truss and Structure Design and Inspection Principles – Available with day 3 or combined with days 1 & 2

Taught by Adrian Forbes-Black, Vice-President of Total Structures.  Adrian has over twenty years of entertainment rigging industry experience in both the United States and Europe, having worked for companies such as Tomcat and Columbus McKinnon before relocating to California nearly eight years ago to work for Total Structures. 
Adrian, assisted by Jeff and Ethan, will teach the fundamentals of aluminum truss design and use, as well as how to visually inspect the product and document the inspection for continued safe use and good record keeping practice.

www.totalstructures.com

General Information

There are three different options available for course attendance:
Option One:
Entertainment Rigging Training Only – Days 1 and 2
Tuesday, March 11th and Wednesday, March 12th 2014
Cost per attendee:
$395 if paid on or before February 3rd 2014
$445 if paid on or after February 4th 2014

Option Two:
Outdoor Structure and Truss Workshop Only – Days 3 and 4
Thursday, March 13th and Friday, March 14th 2014
Cost per attendee:
$445 if paid on or before February 3rd 2014
 $495 if paid on or after February 4th 2014

Option Three:
Full Workshop – Days 1, 2, 3 and 4 as above
Tuesday, March 11th through Friday, March 14th 2014
Cost per attendee:
$795 if paid on or before February 3rd 2014 ($45 Discount over both classes individually)
$895 if paid on or after February 4th 2014 ($45 Discount over both classes individually)

Additional 10% discount is available to recognized groups regestering 4 or more particpants.

The number of attendees is limited so please register soon to avoid disappointment. 
Sessions will begin at 8:30 AM and run until approximately 5:00 PM each day and include a daily lunch break. Lunch will not be included; however there are a number of restaurants less than 1 mile away.  Afternoon snacks will be included along with unlimited coffee, tea, water, and soda throughout the day.  All costs include all course materials.   


If you wish to pay via a credit card please contact for processing.
Please contact us at if you have any questions. 
Thanks for your continued support of Total Structures and United Staging we sincerely hope that we will be seeing you.