Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pink Saturday - Pink Contract

Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you!

I've written about my work backstage for touring theatrical productions. For just about 20 years, I was a member of Local #15 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (no, that's not a typo in the last word, that's the actual name of the union), and in addition to working for my home local as a dispatch stagehand, I worked for theatrical producers as a member of the crew for several touring theatrical productions.

These jobs were union jobs, but workers were represented by the main office of our union, not our union locals. A touring production hired union crews, and agreed that in each city an attraction played, they would hire crews from the local affiliate of the union.

I don't know how many of you work in jobs where you are represented by a union; and if you do, I don't know how many of you are familiar with the contract that governs your work conditions. But most union contracts are pretty lengthy documents, full of legal language and lots and lots of specifications. The contracts that Local #15 negotiated with our local employers were that way. The contract that governs my current job with a public employer is that way.

Not so the contract that covered my work on tour. The "Traveling Stage Employes' Contract" issued by the International was a single piece of paper. The worker's copy is printed on pink paper, and because of that, it is universally known as a "Pink Contract."

People would talk about a "pink contract job." Or about somebody being "on a pink contract."

As Advance Electrician I only worked when the show moved. I had a new contract every time I joined the show, every ten weeks or so. My contract was for a term of one week each time.

Being one page, you could fold it up and put it in your wallet. Which was handy, because in every city an attraction played, there was always a little ritual where the local Business Representative would visit the theatre and ask to inspect each traveling crew member's union card and Pink Contract, to make sure that we were legit. It it's easy to pull your Pink Contract out of your wallet along with your union card for inspection.

The Pink Contract has very few work rules, with almost no protections. We got paid a weekly salary to work our asses off. The conditions under which we were entitled to extra pay were so extreme that few productions ever achieved them - and if they did, they were in such big trouble that you might as well get a little extra dough out of it, because the show was surely doomed.

And even the weak, vague rules in the Pink Contract were seldom enforced. One example? Condition number 8) :

"Drunkenness, drug abuse, dishonesty, or gross incompetence shall be sufficient reason for the immediate cancellation of this contract."

Never saw that one enforced, not once. Don't ask me how I know.


Linda said...

Hi Glennis, this is the most interesting pink saturday entries I have seen! Thanks for sharing- I had never heard of a pink contract. BTW, I LOVE your post about the liquor store with the psychic above! Would have been great to send to Jay Leno! I don't suppose he does those anymore... Happy Pink Saturday! Linda

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

Great post - you have even made Pink Contracts look attractive and appealing!

Gabriela said...

Happy Pink Saturday!

Very interesting pink post!

~ Gabriela ~

LemonyRenee' said...

Very interesting! I knew nothing of this. That's why I love Pink Saturday.

Nancy said...

Happy Pink Saturday! Interesting, informative ...that's why I love visiting around.

♥Mimi♥ said...

It never fails. If the weather is all gray and gloomy Pink Saturday always cheers me up! This week is no exception. Your post this week is just wonderful! ♥Thank you so much for making my day a little brighter!♥

Your post this week was so cool!

Sending warm wishes to you from northern Michigan - where the cold winds blow and gray clouds pepper the skies.



Claudia said...

Love the pink contract - as a vocal coach who works in theater, and with some touring productions, I've met many fellow stagehands. But I never knew about the pink contract!

Happy Pink Saturday!