The Exploited Now Exploit

I’ve long supported unions. My father belonged to one and as an adjunct professor, I do. 

In the past unions improved working conditions, ensured workers were paid fairly and didn’t work an unreasonable number of hours. However, I was appalled when I read this New York Times article With Contract’s Help, Carnegie Crew Draws Big Pay citing two stage hands at Carnegie Hall earning well over $300,000 per year. Stagehands at Avery Fisher and Alice Tully are not far behind.
At a time when nonprofits are having a hard time making ends meet, some unions seem to be ensuring their death. There’s got to be a better way. What are your suggestions?


My husband is a member of the musicians union, and is in daily contact with members of the stagehands union as is my cousin, an actress. Both of them feel that the stagehands, while well compensated, earn every penny, even to $300K annually. What the average person doesn't realize is that the stagehands are the people who keep the actors, musicians, Rockettes, etc, from harm. If a loose or poorly installed piece of lighting or scenery malfunctions, it could easily injure or kill someone.
If you want to go after a group for the demise of nonprofits, how about corporations receiving TARP money, and large bonuses, but cutting back on their sponsorships?

Economic Value

There are many sides that can be taken. For me, it’s about the costs exceeding the economic value. I can justify the CEO's salary whose job, in large part, is fundraising to cover expenses not covered by the price of the ticket . I can justify the talent without whom you wouldn’t have performance. I can’t justify other extraordinary high salaries. It just doesn’t make economic sense to me.

Totally agree that financial service companies abused and continue to abuse the economic sytem, but two wrongs don't make a right.

Let’s keep the debate going. What you think?


I read this article and immediately gasped. Not as much for the basic premise of the article which is the money earned by the stagehands, but for the almost lame explanations of why this pay scale is acceptable. Most people who were interviewed cowered in fear of the stagehands. I assume the unions are enthralled with their power.

“I never had a problem with what they make,” said James D. Nomikos, a former operations director at Carnegie who was their supervisor. “They sacrifice their family life, their time. By the time their careers are over, they’re broken, with all that lifting.”

How many people have to sacrifice their family life and time, and work from morning until night and don't make a quarter of what these people make? I'm all for being appropriately compensated for one's job, but "broken, with all that lifting" – isn't heavy lifting part of the job description of being a stagehand? They lost me with this article, and I don't see myself headed to Carnegie Hall anytime soon.

For an organization created to protect workers rights, raping the system now comes to mind.