Photo: ChairWomanMay

Little did I know when I was a member of the stage crew in high school, that path could have led me to Carnegie Hall where I could be making a cool $400,000 Plus as a stagehand. To be more precise, in 2011 the five full time Carnegie Hall stagehands earned an AVERAGE of $420.000 in overtime pay and benefits. The ONLY employee who made more was the executive/artistic director, Clive Gillinson, who last year took home $1,113,571.

To earn this big bacon, the stagehands moved equipment in and out of the building and prepared stages for performances. One detail I seem to remember from the many appalled reader comments on this story was the fee they charged for moving a cello onto the stage –  a mere $700 bucks. But their whopping income wasn’t enough for these stagehands. Forcing the cancellation of the season’s opening concert  on Wednesday night, its premier fund-raising event, their union, Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, went on strike,

And why did these handsomely paid stagehands go on strike? For a still bigger hunk of their already humungus pie. (See their income tax details reported by the Village Voice.) It seems Carnegie Hall has been constructing a new Education Wing set to open in a year and the union has been pushing for stagehands to be employed there. Additionally, the union demanded that maintenance workers currently employed at the non-profit Education Wing be replaced with stagehands – at a far steeper cost.

Does this sound greedy to you? It may even have sounded a bit over the top to the union itself. After the stagehand’s  salaries and grabby demands were broadcast all over the internet eliciting irate remarks from the public, the union quietly backed off. On Friday afternoon a news release from Carnegie Hall  announced it had reached an agreement with the union. There were no union boasts their demands had been met, (as usually happens after a strike). Instead Carnegie Hall said the new agreement included “limited jurisdiction” for IATSE/Local One in the Education Center. Translation: Carnegie Hall apparently threw the union a minuscule bone to save their face, not the whole carcass the union had coveted.


 More on the New York Cultural Scene