Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The play's the thing (in which to cut pay)

The University of California San Diego’s Department of Theatre and Dance has laid off its entire production staff, 21 employees, and instructed them to re-apply for positions that, for some, will reduce their annual income by as much as 45 percent. All of the staff affected are “joint-staff,” who have worked on productions for UCSD, where they are employed, and for La Jolla Playhouse.

UCSD and the Playhouse have shared university production employees working in the scenic, costumes, props, paints, sound, and lighting departments since 2001. The Playhouse also has its own full-time production staff; however, with the increase in shows over the years, the workload for joint-staff managers became too much. The new arrangement, therefore, is aimed at establishing two separate staffs for both institutions.

The “Dedicated Staffing Plan,” formulated by the Playhouse and UCSD, and obtained by, was announced to the UCSD production staff November 9 and will take effect in January 2017. Twenty-one staff members were given a 60-day notice of termination of their employment and encouraged to re-apply for the new positions. The new model, according to the plan, will follow a nine-month calendar, rather than a 12-month calendar, with an option for summertime work.

The laid-off UCSD employees—some of whom have worked at UCSD and the Playhouse for up to 30 years—are concerned for their futures. They say the nine-month arrangement, as well as a demotion in pay grade, will reduce their annual incomes severely, as well as their pension and retirement benefits. Some also say that they haven't been given the option for summertime work.

“The new model emerged after a thoughtful, lengthy process that involved the university and the Playhouse, and notification to the University Professional and Technical Employees union,” reads the Staffing Plan. The Staffing Plan says that it was necessary because of “the growth of each organization, the increase in the amount of theatre space, and the increase in the number of productions.”

While the staffing plan states that the laid-off staff will have preferential rehire status, one employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told that they felt they were being “targeted” and would not be rehired under the new conditions.

The affected employees have banded together to try and rescind the layoffs... 

Full story at

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