12 Oct Cowboy Complaints - April 1995
FORMER OLD TUCSON entertainers say work conditions changed drastically when Dan Aylward was hired as general manager in '89. They say Old Tucson management then began paying more attention to its profit margin, cutting company empathy to the bone. They insist the $5-something-an-hour starting pay scarcely covered their bills, much less leaving money for the company insurance premiums that could protect them when they were injured.
Old Tucson Studios protects its assets by providing Worker's Comp to employees. State law leaves employers open to liability if they hire without providing this minimum. Although Worker's Comp covers employees' visits to an occupational health center, it doesn't cover days missed due to injury. That is, unless the disability extends beyond seven days.
Former stuntworkers say not only is Old Tucson skimpy on covering its employees injuries, the wages for high-risk stunts are nowhere near what the National Stunt Association might recommend. Those guidelines, consistent with the Screen Actors Guild, begin at $504 per day. Todd Cuson, a former Old Tucson stunt performer, calculated pay for one high fall at just a few cents, or some $45 for a work day.
Another reoccurring concern among former stunt performers (Old Tucson has a company rule against staff talking to the press without permission) is safety. They speak as if quality assurance is nonexistent in monitoring stunt sites and equipment. They say training is inadequate.