"That has never happened. What was made clear to me from the get-go is that 114 is not interested at all in making it harder for stagehands to work. It's counterproductive. So when I work for the State (or other non-organized venues), there's no assessment taken out."
Despite this, Anderson still sees a "massive discrepancy" in the wages of union and nonunion contracts. "I make $19 an hour working as a stagehand at Merrill Auditorium (a union-organized venue). At the State Theatre (which isn't organized), it's about $12.50."
The Merrill has a four-hour minimum, so Anderson's work there earns at least $76 per event, and more if it takes longer. The State, by contrast, pays Anderson a flat $50 per job, regardless of its duration. Most jobs there are under four hours, but they could conceivably go as long as eight — with no extra money for the longer job.
If the pay often works out about the same and Local workers aren't assessed fees working nonunion contracts, why the need for a union at all?
"I believe in unions," Anderson says. "There are a number of industries in this country where workers still need the kind of protection that can only happen from being in a union, and the music industry is one of them. What I do is dangerous. Obviously we try as hard as we can to mitigate that danger, but it's undeniable. And those dangers are magnified exponentially when you have people who care more about money than their workers. It's useful to have a system in place to ensure that doesn't happen."
Anderson says that the 22 employees at the State Theatre (whose general manager, Lauren Wayne, was not available to talk to the Phoenix by our deadline) voted in February on whether to become represented by IATSE. The workers voted against it 13-9. While he voted in favor, Anderson isn't disappointed by the outcome. "I think these things function when the workers want them. I don't like the idea of us forcing anyone who doesn't want to be represented."
After going years without admitting new members — which Anderson attributes to a fear among older members of losing work — the IATSE has lately begun to induct a steady stream of twenty and thirtysomethings, which gives the group hope for the future.
Or as Born put it, in work as in entertainment: "The show must go on."