Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Burning Man Worker's Rights

Here's something I ran across while researching another topic...
Shooter, as you may or may not know, has a huge reputation for stirring up shit and at times being a complete ass, but here I think he raises many valid concerns that I would like to see Burning Man address. I'd like to say also that am glad that the current lawsuit by John Law may cause BMorg to open it's books. If they truly have nothing to hide, then let's get on with it! As I am thinking about it now, I wonder where all the money comes from. If indeed it takes $222.00 per person to put the event on, and most people pay $250.00 or less for a ticket, then where does the money come to pay BMorg salaries, fund art, pay for the shiny new digs... I'm not trying to be anti-BMorg, but I guess I am. It's hard to ignore these questions, in as much as, as something innocent grows into a megalithic sort-of-corporate structure, it not only loses some of it's humanity, but it gains responsibilities towards workers and participants.
Anyway, here's Shooter's blog...
Labor Rights
I have, in the past, such as when I ran as the anti-WTO mayoral candidate in Seattle, dealt with certain labor issues. I am very interested in Nevada labor laws, and how the Black Rock City LLC treats the workers who make the burning man event. I've been inspired by the negative reaction I have gotten, usually from Larry Harvey's other workers that get paid decent wage. They get really pissy when I put forth the idea that the Department of Public Works and the Nevada Properties should be paid a fair wage. I would like to say that not all the workers have problems with what I bring up for discussion. But since I do not depend on Burning Man for my livelihood I have more freedom for discussion. And I am sorry for the trouble that this discussions may cause friends of mine that are currently employed by Larry Harvey.

I also worked for this company in a management position and have inside information on this corporation and how poorly they treat the workers and volunteers. I have very interesting paper work I saved from years ago, plus first hand experience with the six people that own the Burning Man company.

Well, my interest started from a suggestion that someone else gave me about unionizing the DPW. The DPW (department of public works), for those of you that don't know, are the people that build the Burning Man event. Since I worked for the burning man event, I am aware of two or three lawsuits that were settled with workers from wrongful death, injury on the job to being sexually harassed by one of the owners of the company. I am considering filing a lawsuit for things that happened when I was a full time year around worker--and I have the others that can make it a class action lawsuit.

I noticed that I have lost eight people on my friends list. I can't help to wonder if it is because I would do something so radical and dangerous as to suggest that the Burning Man company follow the laws of this country and treat it's workers like human beings. I've done some crazy shit and posted even crazier shit on tribe, but it seems that when I put forth the idea that Burning Man should use some of the 6 million + dollars it spends on the event to take care of the workers that build and clean up the event--if I just put forth that idea--you have to delete me from your friends list. OK. I must be doing something right.

And I don't drink the koolaid.

What I am actually advocating is that the workers be paid the wage they had in 2003 when I was a manager. The company, to cut corners, lowered the pay of the workers by almost half. With the decreasing value of the US dollar I find it strange that workers are getting their pay cut. Burning Man spents $20,000 at a time for art that they burn, and then they burn their workers by cheating them. Come on, I say. This year has the theme of Green. So let's put a little love towards the workers, too, and maybe cancel a few art projects. They can burn $20,000 at a time, but they cut workers pay by $30 a day. That doesn't work for me.

When I was foreman of the black rock station I did a survey of all the business in the area. The Black Rock Station is the Burning Man ranch that they stage the event from. Burning Man paid the least to the workers and offered them rather unsafe working conditions and food prep areas.

Yeah, so, sorry if I have funneled my trouble making skills into something called labor rights. Maybe I should just go back to asking people for $13.

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