"The warmth of the theatre, the hush of the audience, and the spontaneous applause. Money!"
That is why you are here. This short missive will help you survive your first day working with others on a job site manned by IATSE Local #24 referrals and being fairly compensated for your efforts without your rights as a worker being infringed upon and disregarded.
After you have applied to be placed on our referral list and while you are waiting to be called, you should assemble the following tools:
Your attire for the day should adhere to the following guidlines:
You should also read and understand the document HIRING HALL RULES AND FUNCTION. It describes how the hiring hall operates.
Be sure that your papers of identification are in order, your passport is current or you can put your hands on your social security card and drivers license or state ID card (with picture). Be prepared to fill out the usual list of employment documents. For reference they can be found here:
Once you are called and assigned a work day, write the information down. Don't lose this information, it doesn't look good on your record. Take this information with you so that you can verify with others that you are at the right place at the right time. The "call time" that you are given is the time that you are expected to begin working. It is not the time to be arriving at the parking garage and finding out that you don't have $10 to pay for all-day parking. Remember too that you'll have a small mountain of paper work to fill out. You should set aside 30 minutes or so for that paper. No paper, no work, no pay-check. You may be a fined up to $40 and dropped from the referral list for being late on a call.
Be prepared to work all day, many times a very long day. It may be 2 AM by the time you are released from a load-out. It's not a bad idea to carry "show blacks" with you in your vehicle. Also consider whether you will be working inside or outside and dress accordingly. Shorts are not permitted inside our venues, but are permitted on most outdoor events.
Arriving at work intoxicated or returning to work from any breaks intoxicated will result in expulsion from the job site and loss of continued hours. No tolerance, no time.
Cell phones are not permitted to be used on our job sites while working. You may be ejected for repeated use. Understandably you may keep certain work documents on your phone and may need to reference them occasionally; stage plots, equipment manuals, etc. These items do not require phone calls or other "social media" connections. Save it for on break or after your work shift. Generally, pictures of the work environment are not permitted as they may disclose "trade secrets". Remember, this is "show biz", the audience doesn't need to know or see everything.
You should familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures presented in a conspicuous place at the venue of employment; fire exits, tornado instructions, etc. If you cannot find them, ask the job steward.
Your first day may appear to be utter chaos. Stay alert and listen closely for instructions from those whom you are assigned to. If you do not know how to do something please ask how to do it. Someone's safety and or job may depend on the job that you are doing and how you do it. Keep a cool and level head and do as instructed and you may get out alive. Sometimes it is said that this is a neck-down job, it is much more difficult. To be truly a good stagehand you need to know when to work neck-down, and when neck-up is necessary.
Don't wear clothing with dangling strings, torn pieces of fabric, or other items that may get caught in machinery. Be mindful of your hair if it is long enough to potentially get in the way. You should not wear clothing with large obvious logos or offensive verbage, be a pro. "Show blacks" may be required; well-kept long black pants, black socks and shoes, and a black collared shirt will be suitable in most circumstances.
Strong smelling perfumes, colognes, and other assorted body odors are sometimes offensive to some individuals and as such are strongly discouraged. Beware that here in the 21st century, smokers are certainly a minority and many non-smokers may be easily offended. Something as simple as smoking on the way to work in an enclosed vehicle may upset some folks. Extreme instances may be found to be disruptive and consequent loss of hours may be incurred. If your personal hygiene isn't important to you, it is to us.
The simple requirement of most stagehands is to pull the assorted items out of the transportation vehicle and assemble them in such a manner that orators, actors, and musicians can perform their usual bits. After the talent is finished and all of the audience has left the venue stagehands reverse the process and stuff everything back in the truck. You should be able to lift 50 lbs. to your chest, there are others to help you if the load is heavier.
More in-depth skills may be needed for "department head" and/or "house" positions. You, as a first day participant, are not likely to receive these calls. Most folks who get those calls have had many years of experiences in this industry.
Now that you have an idea of what is asked of you, following are general work conditions that you can expect on job sites that are staffed by personnel that are represented by Local #24 collective bargaining. Local #24 collectively bargains with the betterment of the worker in mind, for details of any given agreement see the job steward.