Crew One, the outfit mounting Atlanta stage performances, is paying backstage workers near poverty wages while reeling in a bundle of cash from concert promoters Live Nation and AEG. Live Nation and AEG are the two largest concert promoters in the US staging top dollar performances across the country. From the LA Times:
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.”
The article also mentions the Crew One workforce’s vote to unionize through the IATSE in June of 2014:
The cost to misclassified workers can be enormous. Pay and work conditions at Crew One reached the point that its workforce voted by nearly a 2-1 margin last June to unionize through IATSE — a genuine achievement for workers with little job security in a region traditionally hostile to union organizing. Since then, however, Crew One has refused to bargain with the union, arguing that it can’t legally be forced to negotiate with “independent contractors.” The NLRB rejected that argument in January, but the company last month filed an appeal in federal court.