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Paying your Technicians

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by kerriann85, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. kerriann85

    kerriann85 Member

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    I'm hoping for some ideas on pay rates around the country. I'm sure it varies by location, and school situations probably don't apply. So...

    Here I am in a new Peforming arts center w/o a paid TD. Everyone's paid by the hour.

    1. How much should (or "would" in your own theatre) the person who gets handed a tech rider for a touring company doing a one day gig of, let's say, The Golden Dragon Acrobats, get paid to be in charge of talking to their tech director, run the prehang, find crew, be there for the day of the gig etc.

    2. How much would you pay someone to come help load in, then stay for opening/closing the main rag, and maybe one other fly cue of some kind?

    3. How bout spot operators? Does it matter if they have ever or never done it before?

    4. Would anyone ever get paid one amount to unload a truck, then a different amount when time came to run a follow spot, then different to load up the truck again?

    Feel free to add any other scenarios to the situation as needed and how it's done in your theatre.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2007
  2. kerriann85

    kerriann85 Member

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    Tried to get a signature file attached so you would know more about our theatre.
    Here's the info:
     
  3. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Most places pay a flat rate for overhire crew, no matter what they are doing. Crew heads get paid a bit more (sometimes based on a percentage). First question before we go to in depth into this, what is the skill level of the people you have working? Many colleges and high schools that bring in touring shows double the amount of crew requested in the rider due to skill levels.
     
  4. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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  5. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Occupation:
    Project Manager, Stagecraft Industries, Inc.
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    Well for once I sort of disagree with footer. A lot of places I have worked and have managed at, have seperate rates for different jobs and situations.
    When working at Nike I used to get 20/hr for hang/focus and 25 for board op'ing.
    I believe the going rate at Local 28 for general labor/stagehand is 15 but truck loaders make 21/hr.
    At my theatre I pay labor over a very wide scale, basic grunt labor for strikes and installs is 10/hr, but that varies with amount of expirience. Shop help and electricians generaly make somewhere in the area of 12-15/hr again depending on expirience and skill level. Our board ops and sound ops get a flat rate, which I don't know because the PM hires and contracts them. we also pay some people on whatever scale they desire when we bring them in as independent contractors.
    Now, there is another sticky wicket, The compensation of individuals as an independent contractor can open a can of worms for you and your venue. There are something like 13 questions that can be used to identify an independent contractor.
    #1. do you set your own hours.?
    #2. do you supply your own tools?

    Now, usually by the time you get those two questions asked you've already identified the fact that you're not. This might not seem like a big deal at first, but several years ago several theatre in Oregon Got into a lot of trouble with the IRS over their use of the "independent contractor" clause. They were paying all their technicians, running crew, load in and load out, etc etc, as I.C.'s Be sure to consult with a lawyer or tax advisor before setting any payment plan up.
     
  6. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Very true, I was replying to this as a college type situation. Yes, in the realish world people do get paid different based on what they are doing and how long they have been doing it. As far as changing pay rates during a call goes, it happens sometimes. What it really all depends on is experience level.
     
  7. kerriann85

    kerriann85 Member

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    Thanks for your answers. For the one show I gathered crew for I asked for help from my buddy at the local University. I got University theatre students with experiences all the way from mostly costume shop workers, who were fine for unloading and pushing boxes and tying backdrops to battens to people I knew had counterweight loading and flying skills. There were also a couple guys I didn't know personally that help lay the floor in the hockey arena and I think also unload trucks for events. I needed 10 people and knew I could get variety to cover what I needed. I told them $10 an hour, period. Now, a couple guys, with follow spot experience stayed to run spots for show. I wasn't sure if, for two hours, they should be worth more money? Should the flymen have been paid more for harder sweatier work that required a little more knowledge?

    Payroll is being handled though the public schools, so I think they know how to do it correctly, or can get the info. The three of us that are paid more often were made to fill out tax forms and be "regular payroll". The 'once in a while' gang didn't have to do paperwork. They may be used 3 or 4 times a year. And as it was, paying for 10 people for 1/2 a day and a few for show, the exec. director had a cow. "I hope we don't have to do that again."

    (She doesn't quite understand there's more expense to a touring show than what she's paying the company. But it's just the first season....)
     
  8. kerriann85

    kerriann85 Member

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    Wow avkid, how'd you happen to run across that? :)
    I hadn't even seen that yet. Hmmm, let's have a vote. Who's photos are nicer,
    theirs or mine? :lol:
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Just to chime in after the fact, pay for carp work/rig/focus in the theater here is PA minimum wage (six something an hour), but work in the PAC is 7.low something/hr for crew members, 8.something for tech assistants in training, 9.something for tech assistants, and 10 or so for senior tech assistants (with the staff ATD/SM and TD on top of this structure, and they're handled separately as they're full time staff).
    as to my cryptic "somethings", "something" is usually fifty cents or above, but i'm not sure, and "low something" is about 10 or 20 cents. no idea really, i just get a paycheck, and i'm happy with that.
     
  10. kerriann85

    kerriann85 Member

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    Thanks 'soundlights' you're not after the fact at all, I'm still curious what the pay rate is all over!
     
  11. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I should follow up a bit as well. the independent contractor < IC from here on> thing is reallt only an issue if you are using a consistant crew over an extended period of time. I'm not a tax attorney and don't remember all the rules but you can employ individuals and pay them on a 1099 < without witholding taxes> as long as they don't make over X dollars a year I think the federal is 1200 dollars but don't quote me please. You do however need to fill out the 1099 and make sure it's filed properly , or rather whoever does payroll needs to. I should also say that pay rates here in the great Northwest tend to be a bit higher, as we have one of the highest costs of livings in the country, and while you might get away with paying minimum wage for carps in some areas of the country, even with our state mandated $2.50 over federal minimum you'd never get a crew unless you hired them from the home depot parking lot.
     
  12. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    The thing about campus work - high school or college - is that folks like me will work for a buck or two over the minimum no problem if we really like tech. Sure, we should be paid more, but we understand that the high school doesn't have more. (I don't know why Bucknell doesn't have more, though, I'm forkin' over way too much money to them every semester, and it's jumping another thousand or more next year!!!!!)
     

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