The letter below was written by Vice President Lauren Rogers at the request of the Chair-President Chuck Clay and with the consent of the Local 22 Executive Board. Although the letter is in response to a specific incident, the information and advice in it can be applied universally. Please read it and heed it for the good of Local 22. Please read it and heed it also for your personal success and wellbeing working in this organization.
Dear Referral List participants,
The Executive Board receives constant feedback on the performance of Local 22 Stagehands from our clients, from stewards on the job and from members. Many times, this feedback is positive. We receive many letters containing thanks and accolades from satisfied producers, event planners, and organizations. The hard work that you do is noticed and appreciated by the people signing the checks, as it should be. Even when we receive no feedback whatsoever, we know that you are out there doing your best for the clients, and in their repeated bookings year after year, we know that their needs have been fulfilled.
Recently we have experienced a wave of complaints about the behavior of Local 22 stagehands that lets us know that it is time for us ALL to make some adjustments in our attitudes and behavior. As members of a union and a referral system, we are all in this business together, and the poor behavior of one person or one group can negatively impact the business that we all hold in common.
In the post-recession era, it is more important than ever that we realize that we are a service organization and that we are here to serve the client’s needs. Ultimately, it is the experiences where clients receive the best CUSTOMER SERVICE that expand our business, and keep our great reputation intact. When we have satisfied customers, we can be most effective at advancing our goal of providing great representation to the workers and negotiating better deals. Delivering the best possible labor force that we can muster to the clients every day is both an individual and collective responsibility. Recent events like the letter to the editor that appeared in Production Lights and Staging news are not helpful to this goal.
We need to remember that there is a large cadre of unorganized labor In this town and though we believe that we provide the best value for the worker and the client, we are in constant competition with that cadre, and we CAN and DO lose business to them. We have to walk a fine line here, because our behavior towards other workers affects our reputation and the success or failure of our organizing efforts. As a referral participant you are, in fact, the most likely to become our future union members. Most of the contracts that you are working under include a union security clause, which will require you to join the union once you have worked a certain number of hours in a given venue. Please treat other workers that you encounter with kindness and respect.
Please keep this in mind as you are moving about your daily duties. We need to encourage each other to bring our “A game “to work. What does this mean?
1) Arrive early (on time), and have your tools with you EVERY time. Allow for time to fill out paperwork BEFORE the call starts. Arrive in a condition to do the job you were hired to do: sober, focused, well rested, energized.
2)Keep discussions of union business off the jobsite while working, and away from the clients. All members take a vow to keep union business confidential and among union members, and this may mean that there are things that members of the union cannot discuss with you. Your questions or issues should be directed to the stewards, preferably during break times.
3)Dress appropriately for work, including bringing any required safety equipment. Be prepared for things to change. Have options for clothing and backup gear, such as rain wear, show blacks, extra layers of clothing, extra shoes, etc.
Be polite and courteous to each other and to the clients and event attendees. Extend that courtesy to other workers that you encounter who are not working within our system; we want to educate and attract them to union work by our positive example.
Watch out for each other. This is the essence of union solidarity.
Be mindful of your own safety and the safety of others. Standing around the bottom of the lift or at the back of the truck is not time for coffee hour; you should be focused on assisting and providing support for the person working over your head or in the truck as well as watching out for your own safety.
Refrain from using abusive language, name-calling, and profanity. If you have any difficulty on the job, go to your department head or steward. Let them sort it out. Likewise if the client asks you a question and you don't know the answer, or think the answer may upset the client, refer them back to the steward. In every case, reassure the client that our intention is to do our very best for them.
Remember that we are there to SERVE the client. We don't pay ourselves; we are paid by the client. Bring your best spirit of cooperation, and make every effort to anticipate the client's needs. This way everyone walks away satisfied and we can build on our successes from day to day.