For those currently seeking work, Jared, a TikTok user and member of the band Sundame (@sundame), has some advice: join a stagehand union.
In a video with over 618,000 views, the TikToker shows stagehands working at a show for country artist Luke Combs.
“Find a stagehand Union near you for work!” Jared writes in the text overlaying the video. “They pay dummy dollars for you to set up and tear down shows and events.”
Not a fan of country but a big fan of $30 an hour♬ original sound – SUNDAME
Most stagehands are represented by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE. This union, like other unions, fights for the rights of its workers, including safety provisions while on the job and benefits when not working, such as healthcare and vacation time.
Unions have other advantages as well. A 2021 report from the Economic Policy Institute found that union workers have higher wages, more employer-sponsored benefits, and strengthened health and safety standards when compared to their non-union counterparts.
Furthermore, areas with high union membership have “increased government revenue and decreased government spending,” as their higher wages mean they pay more in taxes and the income from their employer does not need to be subsidized by government assistance.
Jared experienced those benefits firsthand, as he reveals in a follow-up TikTok.
@sundame Replying to @208lonno ♬ original sound – SUNDAME
“I got to do the setup and the teardown, but they were technically two separate jobs,” the TikToker explains. “They really don’t work you hard. Since it’s unionized, they allow a lot of other people to do the work. Your work is very specified and brainless, and it’s really not all that hard to do because they’re very staunch on being safe.”
In the comments section under Jared’s original video, many users supported his claim.
“I work for iatse 346 out of Kentucky. And now work on tours with artists around the world,” wrote one user. “It’s definitely a gig you want.”
“I did that! I was supposed to work 6 hours but worked 3 and they paid me the full 6 hours,” added another.
“Did this for a couple shows back in 2013. got to see Justin Timberlake and lady Gaga about 30 feet away AND THEN made some money,” shared a third.
Jared offered further details in an email to Daily Dot.
“I heard about the job through an old coworker,” Jared writes. “But I love the work. I finally feel like I’m doing something cool that has a future and it’s in the niche I love!”
He went on to enthuse about union work.
“Since it’s unionized, I get good pay, I’m never forced to do something I’m not comfortable with, and there’s a lot of other workers, so it doesn’t feel like it’s all on you to get the job done,” he details. “And it seems like every shift I find out about more benefits like getting paid for a minimum of 4 hours worth of work for every shift.”
That said, a few users on Jared’s video warned that the job can be incredibly difficult, advising those interested in the work to do their research before applying.
“It’s a fun gig til it’s 3 am and you’re hands are bleeding because you got them caught in the rails a ton…It’s tons of heavy lifting, carrying heavy equipment from one place to another, loading up semi after semi of installations and railings ect,” stated a commenter. “The job is definitely meant for [certain] people who love hard work. I however do not.”
“Terrible hours and odd colleagues, but good Money,” noted a second.
“I’ve done this. Sometimes you get an easy task sometimes it’s the hardest work you will ever do in your life,” detailed an additional TikToker.