Unions, Disdain

Carnegie Hall stagehands went on strike to force the cancellation of the Hall’s opening gala, its biggest fundraiser. These stagehands make about $400,000 a year.

The underlying dispute is Carnegie’s unwillingness to subject a new educational wing to Local 1’s dominion. Unions typically mistrust non-unionized workers with similar jobs and treat efforts to place such workers in close proximity to union territory as existential threats. In this case, Local 1 seems to have been trying to eliminate temps or some other contract workers.

The union as much as says so when it denies ever trying to get rid of any “current Carnegie Hall employees.” Legally, this is true; contractors are not employees. But coming from a union rep, “not an employee” means something closer to “subhuman.” This is the natural result when the law permits a person who moves boxes for a living to extort from his employer a rate of $128 an hour.

Since no amount of skill at moving boxes would command such a rate at market, these union members cannot rationalize their receipt of rents as an earned product of their abilities. Only disdain of the non-unionized worker can balance these scales, and so it does.

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