We’ve already seen when happens when a stage is poorly built – people die. And naturally, Live Nation is pulling this shit in the areas where extreme weather is more likely to hit. Greed is our national epidemic:
Brian Hill is a 28-year-old stagehand from Atlanta who’s been planning to address Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting of the giant Beverly Hills-based concert promotion firm Live Nation Entertainment.
Hill has been hoping to explain that Live Nation condemns stagehands in his home region to poverty-level wages while depriving them health and retirement benefits. Conditions in many venues are dangerous and unhealthy — sometimes the workers aren’t even given water to drink. Safety training is all but nonexistent.
The Crew One stagehands are not subject to the contracts Live Nation has signed with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE, for shows in which Live Nation is the direct employer. Union scale for stagehands in Atlanta runs from $18 to $26 an hour; employers also are required to contribute to IATSE’s retirement and health insurance funds. (In Los Angeles, union rates are higher: At Staples Center, for instance, staffers earn a minimum of about $32 an hour.)
When Live Nation works through Crew One, however, the technical workers are paid as little as $9 an hour — a hair above Georgia’s minimum wage of $7.25 — according to testimony delivered by Crew One General Manager Jeff Jackson at a National Labor Relations Board hearing in April 2014. It pays no health or retirement benefits. Crew One’s “independent contractors” have to provide their own hard hats, rigging ropes and steel-toed work boots, which are required on the job. Crew One provides no safety training, Jackson acknowledged, though the firm’s website declares, “We make safety a top priority.”
Sure they do! Uh huh.
Sources say Live Nation has hinted that it might be willing to sign a contract with IATSE requiring that staffers at its Atlanta shows be assigned through the union’s hiring hall, rather than through Crew One. A Live Nation spokesman would say only that the firm “has over 50 agreements in place with IATSE throughout the country and enjoys a strong relationship with the union.” If there’s sufficient progress in the next few days, Hill may not need to come to California after all.
Workforce advocates say the misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a large and growing problem, especially in industries where subcontracting is common, work is project-based and workers are assigned in small groups or individually. The problem increased during the Great Recession, when unemployment sapped workers’ bargaining power. But it’s been endemic for years in the entertainment industry, and is the cause of continuing friction between truckers and trucking companies at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Let’s just say I relate.