Union jobs are great, but try to pick the right union

Philip Greenspun's Weblog 2017-09-05

Continuing the Happy Labor Day theme…

At a social gathering that included musicians from America’s top symphony orchestras, I learned from a Los Angeles Philharmonic member that Gustavo Dudamel‘s star power is earned (“he’s inspiring”), though Esa-Pekka Salonen was more technically accomplished. A New York Philharmonic member described a project in which the 160 union musicians received “slightly less” total cash than the 5 stagehands required. (The stagehands set up the chairs, music stands, etc.) “The senior stagehands make $550,000 a year,” he explained.

Were the musicians envious of the stagehands’ higher compensation? No. “They should get as much as they can,” said one. The musicians did not see themselves as being in competition with the stagehands for slices of their orchestras’  total income (ticket revenue, charitable donations, etc.).