Thursday, November 29, 2007

Broadway Stagehand Strike Ends

Broadway Stagehand Srike Ends
Now, will the professional sector start kicking ass?
The League of American Theaters and Producers and about 3,000 members of Local 1 representing about 3,000 Broadway’s theatre district stagehands have hammered out a new contract with theater owners and producers, ending the stagehand strike. The news was announced last night by the president of the local Actor's Equity during the curtain calls for Wednesday night's performance of "Young Frankenstein."

New York officials estimated the strike was costing the city $2 million a day, which made getting a table at Sardi’s incredibly easy as the restaurant estimated over a 35% loss of business, providing patrons a more relaxing dining experience where they were free to stretch out horizontally in the booths without getting any blowback from the Hostess/Matre’de. Not only that, but tickets for Chicago bottomed out at $26.50 per seat, a ginormous drop from the regular $111.50. Get a ticket!

Why did Broadway’s stagehands strike? The key sticking points of the strike had focused on the number of stagehands required to work on Broadway shows. From the beginning, the league had argued that the previous contract, which expired July 31, had required it to hire too many employees, an arrangement that some likened to featherbedding.But Local 1 members contended that the league’s proposed cutbacks threatened workplace safety and jeopardized hard-won jobs.

So what is Featherbedding? Usually when a group of workers strike, it is because they are being screwed by their corporate welfare king masters, working under unreasonable conditions or not getting paid enough for the work they are doing/overtime to adjust for cost of living/inflation, or all of the above. The stagehand strike was no different, as millions of professionals across sectors in this country are experiencing a disturbing Grapes of Wrath style, feudal lord technique known as featherbedding:

Featherbedding is a pejorative term for the practice of hiring more workers than are needed to perform a given job, or to adopt work procedures which appear pointless, complex and time-consuming merely to employ additional workers.[1] The term "make-work" is sometimes used as a synonym for featherbedding.

Studies have demonstrated what we all know: that there is no computer scientist/engineering labor shortage but rather, a shortage of JOBS for our educated computer scientists and programmers just as there is no shortage of big campaign lobbyist $$$ from the country that is taking our professional jobs: India. So why heap on a bunch of immigrants for jobs when there aren't even enough of them to go around for our own citizens in this sector?
It is important to understand what drove the stagehands to strike and how, just as collective bargaining is imperative to their livelihoods, corporate watchdogging is necessary yet non-existent in professional sectors such as high technology and finance where there is no collective bargaining power or unionization representation to counter plummeting wages and lost jobs due to unfair immigration policies (insourcing/outsourcing) that sell our white collar workers’ jobs out to the third world.

The Great Labor Shortage Lie. Most technology startups and corporations, for example, hire more programmers than are necessary and the compensation packages have steadily plummeted since the early 1990’s when the H-1B visa program began screwing programmers by insourcing jobs for a fraction of their comp plans to 2-6 immigrants when the job could and can be done by one professional here.

But now that the former vice president turned businessman with beltway ties Al Gore , (he’s the good guy, right?) is in the sheets with the tech sector (Google, Apple, Etc.), maybe he can secretly, discretely put the brakes on this whole immigration scam once and for all, and serve as a shiny role model for civility by influencing a big, fat , time-out on this out of control “labor shortage/education shortage” myth from within.

What’s that sound?
Crickets chirping?



Citizen Carrie said...

I'm not sure about the trendy little Silicon Valley startups, but in the Midwest I've seen over and over again where scores of Indians are brought in to work on a project, the manager in charge is shuffled off to places unknown, and the programmers spin their wheels until finally a different manager steps in and tries to figure out why he has this large head count.

There isn't a shortage of qualified US workers. There's a shortage of qualified US managers who know what to do with the available resources.

2Truthy said...

Hey CC,
That is the essential formula: not enough chiefs (note: who are honest enough to say to management, "no, I and a couple of other people can handle this project" and too many Indians.

Corporations have a definite profile mandatory for opening up the golden ropes: The typical "manager" here is somebody with a penchant for football, at least one SUV, has either an MBA finance or Political Science degree (computer science and engineering increasingly optional), and plays along with the ruse that companies need to hire these "talented and highly skilled" people from other lands but our own, bolstering the "us and them" mentality required for a have and have-not community. How else can you maintain your elite status if you don't take the pledge to drive down your neighbor's wages so that you can be top alpha dog??