There’s no labor in Broadway. But there’s no Broadway without it.
To most people in the US, Labor Day means one thing. A day off.
It’s a day of BBQs that signal the end of summer, back to school, and no more summer Fridays.
When I first entered the Broadway work force, Labor Day meant another thing: Holiday Pay (As an ATPAM member, we got a little extra in our paycheck on certain holidays – the theory being that unlike the regular work force, we didn’t get a long weekend – since the Broadway eight show a week schedule remains the same no matter what week it is).
But Labor Day isn’t about a day off, and it isn’t about a few bucks in your pocket.
It’s about the Labor Movement . . . or groups of people coming together for a common goal.
What’s funny is that’s what the theater is about, isn’t it? Groups of artists coming together for a common goal. Groups of audience members coming together for a common goal.
Often Labor and Broadway are seen at odds (although since the Stagehand Strike of 2007 I’ve noticed that new contracts seem to get settled much more quickly and quietly these days), when in fact we’re just not.
We’re all working in a industry that we love; an industry that while appears to be boomin’ has got significant challenges ahead if it’s going to continue to survive, and provide for all of us that work within it.
So as a proud union member myself (two and counting), I want to say thank you to the incredible folks in our unions, especially those behind that scenes that work with us to keep the lights lit, the actors dressed, and the tickets sold. You are the foundation on which the shows are built. And like foundations, people may not be able to see you. But if you weren’t there, the house would simply fall down.
Happy Labor Day to all.
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