Author Topic: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard  (Read 5223 times)

kisserofsinners

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Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« on: November 20, 2012, 11:44:08 AM »
Yeah Mustache!!!

So i'm really stoked. I've found hope in a way that i've never known before in my adult like and it's fucking great!!! \o/

The wife and i have set our goals high and we're reaching our benchmarks. I'm hustling in the house so we don't spend any extra.

...and i just picked up a new gig. I'm a lighting and sound tech by trade and a friend i worked with a Burning Man knows i work and play hard and wanted me on his team for a holiday show.

I've singed up to further kick my own ass by committing to work every weekend from now till he end of the year to stage manage this show's run. I already bust ass and am now cramming more things that must be done into my evenings after work so that we're not losing some to gain little. I forgot that there would of course be 2-3 additional weeks of set up...and now, just fucking now, i realize that there will be a strike, too. My show days will be 12 hours and require me to manage lunch and dinner while onsite. It's a historical event that additionally requires me to buy a costume. Current cost $125 and likely to increase with the need for a time piece to do my stage managing job with. Show starts Friday.

I can't get anyone to tell me what i will be paid! I was able to finagle a parking pass (thank my gods), but my day rate is a mystery. When haggling to get a parking pass i was asked, "are you broke?" I'm certainly not, but i also didn't sign up to work for free. I sure as shit don't want to be paying $100's on costume, $50 for parking, all other driving costs, two meals a day, plus extras like everyone around me. It's additionally awkward with my boss being a public school teacher, married to a teacher and with a kid in the bay area. They can't afford a phone right now. He actually gave me *his* parking pass, since his wife got one, too. I choose to live like i'm poor, but am surrounded by folks who don't see the choice and definitely aren't making any moves to make one.

My usual weekend rate is $350-400/day. I'm a member of a high skilled trade union and totally don't expect this rate here, but any less than $100/ day is simply not worth my time. It's also barely minimum wage. Worst case scenario i don't get what i deserve and i don't come back, but i really *like* this work and i would very much like to keep doing it for extra holiday cash moving forward. I really like my boss and we work well together, even under intense duress.

How do i make my need to get paid for my work in a community of hippies and "artists" understood?

Understand that i struggle here normally. I worked doing this very similar gigs for 13 years before i even realized people got paid for it and i can totally quit waiting tables. I don't understand how to negotiate my value in these environments where they act like people are willing to do it for free or they must be so broke they are desperate. I don't want to wait till the show is over to find out what's going on. I just want to quit worrying and get this show on the road. ;o)

Jack

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2012, 12:14:35 PM »
Did you already agree to do it? If you did, and you didn't agree to a price up front, then you're on the hook for free IMO. You think your "boss" hired you to do a job; he thinks his "friend" agreed to do him a favor.

My guess is that if you tell him explicitly that you're not going to work for free then you might end up getting paid, but probably at the cost of the relationship.

Next time, negotiate beforehand.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2012, 12:43:48 PM »
Thanks Jack.

I was upfront and pretty honest that if it's gratis work i simply can't commit to anything on this kind of scale. I spoil the shit outta my wife and she's not happy to lose her house boi for 6 weeks.

I've also followed up over the last couple weeks. As of this last set up week i at least got a contract...but it's already signed with a blank in my payment slot. Fuck me. Yes, from a legal stand point i'm already fucked and i know it.

I guess what i'm looking for is a little softer science then contracts.

How do i approach the conversation and make it clear that, you can pay me whatever, but if you want me to come back you should really consider what the hell that will be carefully? The fact of the matter is they wouldn't have needed me at all if they were paying their people well. It's starting to feel like one of those gig where they're treating you like it's a privilege to be there at all. Being pulled in at the last minute because no one else would do it is not exactly making me feel safe.

KingCoin

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2012, 01:08:06 PM »
1) Start with the soft approach.
Enlist your boss as the problem solver. Mention that you're passing on other paying gigs (even if they're only theoretical) in order to work on this production and that it's causing you and your wife a lot of stress. Alluding to financial hardship (even if manufactured) can underscore the fact that you're not trying to be a hard-ass. Ask him what he would do if he were in your situation to resolve this issue. This approach can often go a long way.

2) If that fails, start getting more firm. Ask your boss why he can't commit to a day rate. If he doesn't have the authority to commit to a rate, then you need to approach the guy who does have the authority. You want to be cordial, but also firm and persistent. Don't accept wishy washy excuses or kicking of cans.

3) If you continue to get the run-around. You need to explain that working without a contract is simply too much risk in terms of time and money invested on your part, and that you'll have to part ways. No need to burn any bridges here. Say it's been a pleasure working with everyone, you wish them the best, it really pains you to walk away etc. If at this point, no firm financial offer is forthcoming, it's fair to assume you weren't going to get paid anyway, and that you've effectively cut your losses. I'd submit a professional invoice to the business manager of the production for what you consider a fair wage for your services thus far. It may not get paid, but it can't hurt.

Jack

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2012, 01:12:46 PM »
Thanks Jack.

I was upfront and pretty honest that if it's gratis work i simply can't commit to anything on this kind of scale. I spoil the shit outta my wife and she's not happy to lose her house boi for 6 weeks.

I've also followed up over the last couple weeks. As of this last set up week i at least got a contract...but it's already signed with a blank in my payment slot. Fuck me. Yes, from a legal stand point i'm already fucked and i know it.

I guess what i'm looking for is a little softer science then contracts.

How do i approach the conversation and make it clear that, you can pay me whatever, but if you want me to come back you should really consider what the hell that will be carefully? The fact of the matter is they wouldn't have needed me at all if they were paying their people well. It's starting to feel like one of those gig where they're treating you like it's a privilege to be there at all. Being pulled in at the last minute because no one else would do it is not exactly making me feel safe.

Ah, it sounds like the expectations aren't quite as dire as I assumed. Apparently, you're dealing with a financial illiterate (a signed contract with a blank price? Really?).

I make no claim that this is good advice -- I wouldn't have the social skills to negotiate this and have the other party like me afterward -- but what I'd do is decide how much you value your time and your relationship with this guy, add in your expenses to come up with a rate you're comfortable with, and then inform him that that's what the rate is going to be, take it or leave it. IMO, he's jerked you around enough that he's lost the privilege of negotiation.

I think KingCoin's advice is much better than mine, by the way.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 03:44:41 PM »
Thank you for the replies. I think Kingcoin's advice is spot on and will push on. It's hard to be a total hard ass on something like a local Christmas carol type of event. I'm glad i was able to crowd source some responses.

Have a great week. :)

sheepstache

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 04:08:52 PM »
Ooh, dear, this sounds awkward and as another entertainment-industry worker, I sympathise.  There really is no lower bound to people's insanity about how cheaply they can get skilled labor, so you def gotta get an answer.  I might do a mock-sympathy thing like, "We have to talk about my rate, otherwise I'm worried when I invoice you for my standard $400/day rate it'll break your bank." (Obviously you'd highball because it's an open invitation to negotiate lower.)  Granted, that's awkward, but nothing can be more awkward than employers who don't know how to have a fucking conversation about what they plan to pay.  I mean, I know you have a friendly connection here, but I usually assume people who waffle this much don't have their shit together and would therefore be terrible to work with.
Also, it sounds like other people associated with this have "real" jobs?  They don't realize that this, like, _is_ your job.  So of course they think of pay as an afterthought.  A non-mustachian joke, like, "Hey, I'm not independently wealthy and I want to be able to eat on Christmas, so, seriously, how much are you paying me?"  It might help to tell them that, aside from the money itself, if other industry folks find out that you've worked for a super low rate, that devalues your professional reputation.
And fer chrissakes, there's plenty of special holiday event work around.  You can tell them that you're giving up really primo seasonal days to work for them.
I think Jack and KingCoin have offered good advice.  If you're worried about burning bridges, the flipside of that is: how are you going to feel about your friendship if you're resentful of getting a joke of a paycheck?  Your feelings matter too.
Only other thing I can think of is to make sure to handle the situation now, _before_ you're upset.  Talking about the job when you can still reasonably call it off is not only going to put you in a better negotiating position but, more importantly, make it a more pleasant conversation because you'll be relaxed and the person you're talking to will respond to that rather than the fact that you're angry.  I mean, you can act cheesed off if you think it will help, but it's different from being _actually_ angry.

Okay sorry when I write it out this seems super obvious verging on condescending.  I'm sure you'll do fine.

Jack

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 04:22:10 PM »
Okay sorry when I write it out this seems super obvious verging on condescending.

It wasn't obvious at all to me (which is what I meant when I mentioned not having social skills).

kisserofsinners

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2012, 02:43:11 PM »
I might do a mock-sympathy thing like, "We have to talk about my rate, otherwise I'm worried when I invoice you for my standard $400/day rate it'll break your bank." (Obviously you'd highball because it's an open invitation to negotiate lower.)  Granted, that's awkward, but nothing can be more awkward than employers who don't know how to have a fucking conversation about what they plan to pay.  I mean, I know you have a friendly connection here, but I usually assume people who waffle this much don't have their shit together and would therefore be terrible to work with.
...
Okay sorry when I write it out this seems super obvious verging on condescending.  I'm sure you'll do fine.

That is perfect!!!

Even obvious can be hard to see. It seems like i'm being too emotional about this to be very clear headed.
Thanks for your response. :)

kisserofsinners

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 07:35:32 PM »
I might do a mock-sympathy thing like, "We have to talk about my rate, otherwise I'm worried when I invoice you for my standard $400/day rate it'll break your bank." (Obviously you'd highball because it's an open invitation to negotiate lower.)  Granted, that's awkward, but nothing can be more awkward than employers who don't know how to have a fucking conversation about what they plan to pay.  I mean, I know you have a friendly connection here, but I usually assume people who waffle this much don't have their shit together and would therefore be terrible to work with.
...
Okay sorry when I write it out this seems super obvious verging on condescending.  I'm sure you'll do fine.

That is perfect!!!

Even obvious can be hard to see. It seems like i'm being too emotional about this to be very clear headed.
Thanks for your response. :)

So far we're staring over the feild at each other. I did more or less what you said and with back up from a freelancer friend. They offered $65-85. I volleyed back hard on my rate, not offering to negociate.

I've checked in with a couple friends. First the guy that worked with them and gave me the red flag, "I had to leave for 4 years to stop hating them..." earlier in conversation. He reaffermed what i was already starting to see. They are abusive to their people because it's a little culty and they can. I am not having as much fun as the other kids working for not enough.

I also spoke to my friend who brought me in to the event. I am willing to work the shifts he needs covered for conflics. other wise i'm out. I've decided my i'll finish the run price and my i'll do it forever price. The reality is that it needs to be pretty high to motivate me out of bed and away from my new wife.

Tomorrow morning I'll either be sleeping in or be getting paid a decent wage.
Win/win

happy

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2012, 07:58:42 PM »
And?..

sheepstache

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2012, 08:41:45 AM »

Tomorrow morning I'll either be sleeping in or be getting paid a decent wage.
Win/win

Yay for win/win!  The more you write about it the more it sounds like a place that's not even worth working at for the sake of connections.  But hey you've picked up a little change, gained some experience with negotiations, and demonstrated your classiness to anyone who cares to notice in offering to fill the most necessary shifts.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2012, 11:32:54 AM »
And?..

Ther're getting wordier. My negiciator friend says that's good. They're trying to get me to accept the low rate to complete the run. I have to say as a someone with 20 years experience and a very broad thearer tech background hearing "it's could be a resume builder." was a laugh! I've rejected without counter offer and then followed up offering a "50% discount rate". I'm not willing to negiciate further. They're grateful enough

I'm not really sure how it'll go.

**did not get around to postng that.**

I'm at home cooking and cleaning and being with my family. I did my half day last night. No one came up to me and tried further negiciations. They said I didn't have to do next weekend either and I'll communicate through my friend for when i get paid for what i did on the show so far.

My friend when asked where I was said, "she found out what she was being paid and she quit." For my half shift I got a semi-steady parade of performers from my stage coming up and seeing me off. The lead performer held me for a few minutes during the last act, until feedback called me to the board. I'm pretty sure there are not hard feelings there.

I still have a parking pass and entry pass for through the end of this run and will likely go back and be off duty, if I can manage that.

happy

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Re: Stuck between a soft and a squishy place and life is still hard
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2012, 12:09:18 AM »
Sounded like it was going to go this way. Sometimes you just gotta do , what you gotta do. Thanks for the update...