OK, so whats this all about you ask?  It’s simple, in each town or city that have venues for rent fall into two categories, either Union or non-union. The IATSE or the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees is the Union that provides trained crews to the larger mostly city owned venues.

These are very well paying gigs and require not only the skills taught in Brown Dog’s Roadie School, but also recommendations and in some cases you must be taken under the wing of a skilled member.The Union is clear, Union members can only work at Union controlled venues, and you better not walk into a Union hall as a roadie and touch just one piece of gear, I made this mistake one load-in when I saw this chap loosing balance of a case, and I ran over to lend a hand. Seconds later the Union Steward walked up and slapped me with a huge fine. Rules are rules.

So if you are young and looking at this industry as a profession, wondering if you should try to get in the Union or not, look first at your goal.  If your goal is to lets say not travel, have a home or family and want a really good job the Union seems like the logical choice. But first, check around and see how many venues in your city or nearby cities there are that use Union crews. Check with the local Union shop to see if they are hiring. You need to determine if there are enough  Union run venues to keep you working as Union crews work on seniority, and first starting off you will be on the bottom of the call list.

Looking back over my years I had two chance to join the Union and passed them by each time. If I had joined I would now be near the top of the call list, making great money and getting ready to retire. And now at my age that option probably would have been the better choice but then….

I have seen the world from a tour bus and traveled with some of the finest talent in the lands, and I wouldn’t change a thing, not one single moment… the show must go on.