Monday, May 30, 2005

A childish, selfish greed

I don't quite see how this is "blinking" on the part of the Blue Man Group, having taken out a full-page ad in the Globe & Mail this past Saturday, defending the use of non-union labour in their Toronto production. I've never found the Blue Man Group particularly compelling - their presence in the running gags of Arrested Development aside - but if I was in Toronto and had the opportunity, I'd buy a ticket purely because they're showing some backbone in standing up against union goons, concerned only with their own sinecures and claims of entitlement. If the fact that the cost of union dues isn't necessarily being passed on to the end consumer means tickets might be a few dollars cheaper, that's a bonus. Suzy Conn of Blogway Baby notes - pretty glibly, I think - "Methinks they've left out a few important details, which is the answer to the question: 'Why they can't use Equity members?'" I would suggest there's a fairly straightforward reason for the BMG's actions spelled out in the third paragraph of their open letter: For our Toronto production, we have hired Canadian actors and musicians, a Canadian crew, as well as Canadian management and support staff. Some of these individuals are members of unions, and some are not. We respect their decisions either way. We are an equal opportunity employer and have always been open to all qualified personnel. It is an employee's choice to join a union -- not an employer's place to require it. If union members are individually best qualified for a job, great; if not, they'll hire non-union technicians and support staff. Union labour is not sacred; membership is often not to an individual's benefit, nor is the lack of union membership a guarantee of poor treatment. The one union job I've had, I was paid (and treated) worse than when working for Wal-Mart. I can understand precisely where the Blue Man Group is coming from: they're railing against the supposition that there's something inherently immoral or shameful about refusing to submit to the demands of those soak-the-rich socialists who tend to rise to union leadership positions, no matter the trade. Good on 'em.

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