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Getting Paid

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Traitor800, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    So this is something that Ive been curious about for a while, how do theatres get away with paying so far below minimum wage. For example my girlfriend currently a non equity ASM at a LORT D theatre and is getting paid $150 per week+ housing, and even if you include the housing its still below minimum wage especially for the hours she works. And this is that way that its been at both summer theaters that Ive worked at, only the year round employees and the AEA stage mangers got paid more than minimum wage. So yeah just wondering if anyone knows how they get away with this so that I can stop thinking about it.
     
  2. willbb123

    willbb123 Active Member

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    I worked at a camp for a few summers and they were able to pay less then minimum wage because they provided housing and food.
     
  3. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    I have done that, and I plan to continue for as long as I am able.

    With food, housing and basic medical care provided you don't really need to be making a whole lot of money.
     
  4. Gretsch

    Gretsch Member

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    The reason most places can pay interns, apprentices and assistants less than minimum wage is because it is a independently contracted position. As an independent contractor your wage is up to you to negotiate and your taxes are not taken out of your check by your employer. Most people in these positions put up with the lower wage because they are getting perks like free housing and a travel stipend. The federal and state governments do not regulate contractual wages that are fixed and not hourly or salary.
     
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  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    It really depends on the theatre. I am currently working in education because the pay is twice what a lot of my friends are getting, full benefits, that type of thing. My summer home also pays very well, and gives me a 1 bedroom apt. to myself, all utilities minus internet paid. I have worked at places that "housing supplied" means sharing a room with 2 other carps, and the pay was so so.

    Now, even in my summer home, after the hours I worked a week I was barely making minimum wage. Add the cost of housing and I was making a little above minimum wage. At the same time though, I went 4.5 weeks without a day off, and worked at least 10 hours a day, sometimes up to 16 hours a day.

    Your girlfriend needs to get her card. That should fix that problem. When a theatre hires a non AEA ASM in an Equity house, they are not going to pay them well because they are there to learn the ropes and get points on their card. After she gets her card, she will get paid pretty well, and have benefits (if she gets her 20 weeks).

    The hunt for benefits in the theatre world is a harder one then the hunt for pay. Most places will cover housing, unless you are under a full year contract. Very few theatres have decent benefits packages that don't eat your pay down to nothing.

    My rule with working in this "biz", if your salaried don't divide. It can just wreck your day. There is a reason places salary, they do it so they can get you to work at much as you need to. When you are first starting out, you are lucky if you get paid at all. I have a really good friend who spent all 4 of her summers in/after college at one theatre. The first summer she got 150 dollars FOR THE SUMMER, and housing. Next summer she was an ASM on a smaller show. and got 100 a week plus housing, next summer she was an SM on a larger show and got 300 a week, and this past summer she was PSM and got 700 a week plus her own apt on lake Michigan. You always start out small and work your way up. Its just how it works.
     
  6. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    I totally understand that thats how it all works, and why im getting an Engineering Degree instead of a theatre degree, I was just curious as to how they got away with it and what Gretsch said makes since.

    My girlfriend is working on getting her card, I was just using that as an example cause its the most recent example that I could think of.
     
  7. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    You are wise grasshopper.:grin:

    Electrical Engineering
    University of Waterloo
    Class of '86
     
  8. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    And take the EIT test before you graduate.

    Joe
     
  9. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Most places will call it a stipend, and not treat these people as true employees. This is a HUGE Hot Button issue for me, Employing Technicians, ASMs or PAs as "Independent Contractors" Is Illegal and contrary to IRS rules and most likely against local State departments of revenues rules as well.


    This statement is patently untrue. Thats not a condemnation of you Gretsch, it's a common misconnception. Companies are not allowed to pay "wages" that fall below Federal or State Guidlines and rules. Companies can pay a "fee for service" of any amount, which is why so many companies prefer to hire independent contractors.

    I've attached a PDF of Oregons revised Independent contractor rules. These are based on, I believe, Texas' rules which If memory serves, are the basis for mosts states IC rules.


    Getting back to the original issue, If your Girlfreind is being employed as an ASM at an Equity LORT D she should be receiving, at the least, Minimun Equity scale. If she is being employed as a PA < Production Assistant> well then she's screwed, as most theatres use this title to get around Equity Rules for minimum scale and and maximum duties. If she is listed as an Equity ASM then she has a legitimate claim against the theatre, even if she does not have her card, she has the right to Equity Scale in a LORT D. I suggest crusing over to the Actors Equity Association Website and downloading the rulebook for LORT D. They are really not that hard to read, or interpret < contrary to what most PM's and Business Managers would have us believe.> they have lots of cool info, and it may just be very elightening.
    Hope that helps some.
     

    Attached Files:

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  10. Traitor800

    Traitor800 Active Member

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    Thanks Van that helps a lot


    Not quite sure what the EIT test is but I am going to be taking the FE Exam which is step one to Getting My PE license.
     
  11. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    Engineer in Training. (Same thing, just force of habit.)


    Joe
     
  12. Gretsch

    Gretsch Member

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    Van, thanks for catching my slip ups. It is true that it is usually considered a stipend and not a "wage" per say, but as far as "independant contractors" are concerned here is the IRS's explanation:

    "The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if you, the person for whom the services are performed, have the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result."

    Before being hired you should alway take this into consideration and negotiate pay and benefits as well as your work schedule based on the IRS's definition.
     
  13. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    As fun as that is, I believe that shifts the liability. If I'm paid as an employee who is an overhire, I'm covered under the theatre's insurance if something happens to me on the job. As an independent contractor, it would sound from that definition that I could be held extremely liable if something went wrong and caused damage to person or property, and would not be covered under insurance if I were to get injured myself. I'd rather have taxes deducted from my checks than deal with that.
     
  14. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Yes, insurance is the bane of the independent contractor. You need to verify whether or not the company will cover you under workman's compensation insurance. Most likely not, you are not an employee. I have to consider that when I take side jobs, since if I injure myself working as an IC, that affects my regular job. Not something I can readily afford.
     
  15. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    his is one of the main reasons many departments of revenue have been cracking down on the IC thing. If you're working as an IC you need to have a minimun of $1mil liability insurance and if you can afford it be bonded. At the rate most IC's are employed in Theatres there is no way one can afford this.
    Speaking of the IRS's rules concerning IC's hey used to have a worksheet with 13 questions, all of which had to be answered "Yes" to be considered an IC, the first question was,"Do you set your own hours?" Hmm PA's showing up whenever they wanted, I wonder how well tha would go over with the SM. The second question was," Do you supply your own tools?" Don't know too many Overhire Carps that carry a tablesaw in their tool belts.
     

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