I was wondering how to tell this story without me getting hurt. The sad thing is I am serious. (the names and union numbers have been changed to protect...well, me)
One of our events was in San Francisco, a known union issue venue. We had to hire the local stagehand union to do everything we do. We weren't supposed to touch any of our gear. They turned out to be pretty cool, expensive but cool, they allowed us to set up our own technical points, mainly the stage connections. The part my company fell short on was how to get the gear out of the truck. You got it, they forgot to hire teamsters.
So I have 8 union stagehands standing around waiting for me to make a decision. I call local 24 and left a message, so I decided to have us unload the truck with out them.
Two hours later I get a call from the union saying they would send guys right over...gulp.
Me: "well, the truck is unloaded"
Them: "WHAT? WHO unloaded it?"
Me: "My personal crew, I had 8 guys from local 46 waiting and I couldn't wait any longer"
Them: "You know there's going to be a penalty"
Me: "As long as the penalty isn't me at the bottom of the San Fransisco bay, we'll deal with it"
Them: "Don't joke like that"
Them: "You will pay the guys loading you out tomorrow each an extra 2 hours wages for you taking matters into your own hands.
After the show we start to load out and three Samoans are waiting on the dock to load the truck. Right in the middle of the task, a truck pulls up and starts to unload gear on their own...uh oh.
Them: "Who are you and who's unloading you?"
The other them: "Local 46 from San Jose"
Them: "yeah, don't move, Bobby get over here"
Bobby was a 300+ pound guy in his 60's that dragged a chair to the back of their truck and just sat there. An hour later our load out was winding down, Bobby was still sitting there and three clients in suits were standing in amazement that their show was shut down by well....Bobby.
I was later told by the union rep that because we actually called, we didn't get punished as bad.
On to Boston. The hotel told us it was a non union dock so we should hire local temp guys (which we did). On third of the way through I get a call from the truck that two union guys are on their way to see me. Huh? wonderful. Sure enough local 24.
Me:"Hi guys, what's up?"
Them: "You have non union guys working on our dock"
Me: "I was told this was a non union dock"
By then the hotel manager showed up and announced security is on it's way. With one phone call an elevator opened up and I now had 12 teamsters standing all around me. I have very few gifts but I do have the gift of gab, I joked with the guys a bit and assured them that I was just stuck in the middle. They understood. Security shows and says "you know you guys can't do this on property"
Them: "fine let's take this outside"
After a 3 minute negotiation, the head teamster says I need to call this number which I already had in my cell phone.
Me: "oh Mike?"
Them: "you know him? We knew you were a good guy!"
I call my boss in Chicago and explain the situation. He calls Mike and pays for 4 guys to load in and 4 to load out. Each day is a 4 hour call so 4 guys 8 hours...3K. yup three THOUSAND dollars! The kicker was that on the load out there was a small teamster girl. We have 3 big projector cases that get stacked for shipping. One of the teamsters tells the girl to step aside and tells me to help him stack them...WHAT??
I like my knees so I did it.
Our trucker had to back into the dock and blocked traffic for only about 4 minutes. That made a cop mad so he pulls in with lights blazing. Our driver asked how else he was supposed to get in and that made the cop madder. The cop stated he had about 5 commercial violations that he was going to slap on us. The head union guy walked out and told the driver to go away. Three minutes later the guy comes back with the license and paper work then hands them back to the driver. The cop was gone. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I asked what happened and the guy just said, "hey, you're our friends now".
Question: How many Teamsters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: 27, got a problem with that?
I've been telling that joke for years, some how it's not as funny anymore.
DC, Philly, Atlanta....after that I am unemployed again...Joy.
At least I'm not hurt!