Student vs Union Labor

2 Replies

Student vs Union Labor

Posted by Brian Magee on May 31, 2019 10:19 am

I'm curious if anyone has had had to shift to more outside union labor rather than student employees to do major set ups for concerts, performers, etc.?  If so, was the shift due to risk management or other reasons? Costs? Trainings? Insurance?


Brian Magee
University of Rochester
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Re: Student vs Union Labor

Posted by Veronica Perondi on May 31, 2019 10:50 am

Hey Brian,

I can give you two separate example of what we do...

If there is an event that is taking place in the Student Union, our student employees (both Operations and AV) work it, unless the client wants to bring in their own AV team. This typically happens with high level, VIP events and speakers like the Provost's Lecture Series or formal events with the President. They do have to follow our building policies, but we do not pay them, the client pays them. Otherwise, if we have a large event, concert-esqe or performer/speaker, our student employee Operations and AV team work it, lead by Full Time Staff. 

At our 2 concert venues on campus, they are managed by another department of Associated Students, but they are Live Nation venues. The staff the set up the concerts are all contract employees through separate companies. The only student employees that work during the events are event staff, like seating guides, ticket sales, etc..

Hope that helps a little for you. 


Re: Student vs Union Labor

Posted by Darin Martin on Jun 2, 2019 7:47 am

Hello Brian! 

At the University of Michigan, we also have a blended model of student work vs. outside work! For any concerts related to big performers or concerts, whether we utilize students or need to hire the local IATSE stagehand union depends on the locations. If it is a smaller concert, which can take place in our Union facilities, we are not required to have the IATSE stagehands present. We may have to hire in outside sound or lighting (which comes with a tech to operate these), but the rest of the tasks are all completed by student staff.

For any larger concerts or performances, however, we need to host these in other performance venues on campus, which are managed by a different department on campus. These are Union-house-esque, meaning that the stagehand union is required if the performers are being paid, if we need to rig outside sound/lighting, or if an outside promoter is bringing this concert to campus (we still manage all of the production details for this, but sometimes outside promoters wish to come on campus). IATSE is not required for your typical student group performance, and the department on campus that manages the venues provides a house technician to help with any technical components of the venues. We negotiate a contract with the IATSE every two years. 

The need for the union has many different reasons. Firstly, they have the technical skills needed to not only manage all aspects of the production, but to ensure the integrity of the facilities (Our main concert venue is an historic space designed to be acoustically perfect for concert band and orchestra performances, and we transform the space to accommodate these rap/hip hop concerts). Another reason is liability. Not only is the union trained, but they are covered under their own insurance. 

I realize that there is so much more that I can say on this topic, so I am happy to talk more about any of it!