For those who have been there done that, they personally know the horror stories of paying a union guy $250 for electrical connections, or a few hundred for loadin/loadout. For others, such seems an overblown fantasy story. Well, for some venues, it is very real… and what you dont want to do, is tick off the union guy.
Often times, there are the sale of the earth types, they can see through BS 100 miles away. While they may be powerless to do much about it, by title, or regs… getting one on your side, can make impossible situations incredibly easy, as they know the workarounds. As such, dont go crabbing to them about what you are paying, dont hinder their work, dont crab about how long it takes etc.
Here are a few examples, where being cool paid off…
I was on a massive setup, and the electrical inspector was being a royal pain and then some. Apparently someone had cut a few too many corners recently, and some bad stuff happened, so he was going to make sure every i was dotted, and t crossed even if it didnt make any sense. Having befriended the union crew a couple hours earlier, an old guy pulled me aside, and threw out a few pointers as to exactly what was needed, and how to get the inspector to sign off and be happy about things. What could have been a disastrous delay, turned into a few creative tweeks, and we had our signoff. The $250 connect charge was well worth it.
In another case… some food for the union crew paid huge dividends. Other outfits had the traditional toss and throw… our gear was handled quickly, but with a whole lot more care. I imagine the other guy ripping on the union for overcharging was not received too well.
Another time out, the union guy noticed one of our panels had gotten more than its fair share of road rage. Had he not caught that, and likely the electrical inspector would not have noticed, being focused primarilily on minutia, we could have run into some major headaches down the road. A set of helpful eyes, especially not involved with the same gear day after day can catch things ones own crew might miss.
Ultimately, in many union venues, there really is no choice. Its a cost of doing business… thus one can either be a jerk and potentially reap some negative consequences, or be a decent fellow, or even go above and beyond a bit and good things can happen. Its no guarantee of course, but why start out the day with a negative vibe. Even if things go as normal, its a whole lot nicer for everyone, to be cool, rather than to come across as a jerk from hour zero.