Interview with Will Taylor, General Union

Working in the deepest, darkest offices, meeting rooms and work spaces is Will Taylor, acting Chair for the Tokai Branch of the General Union. Will is always hard at work fighting the good fight for worker rights. The GU is expert at negotiating on behalf of employees who are faced with the oft confounding and belaboring work conditions in Japan. If you’re in need of council regarding a workplace situation please contact Will and the GU. And please remember the GU is membership based, so it’s advised to become a member before you have a problem. Your chances of a satisfactory resolution will be that much higher.

Thank you Will for the interview. To get us started, could you tell us a little bit about your history with Nagoya Players?

I’ve been around the Nagoya Players in one capacity or another for a few years now, since sheesh, 2008 now that I think about it. I started out as a replacement for an actor who had to leave The Boys Next Door, then did the sound design work for The Red Oni Cried, acted again in Three Guys One Pub, directed Anger (an adaptation of 12 Angry Men)…other behind the scenes stuff…just all kinds of stuff really.

So, you’ve been an actor and director? Which did you enjoy more? Why?

To be honest I don’t rightly know. I like knowing about the nuts and bolts of stuff, how the sausage is really made, so to speak, so directing, doing backstage stuff definitely interested me, but it is also a boatload of emotions. Acting is stressful in a way, but also relatively straightforward? You focus more on one job.

Now please tell us about your work with the GU? How did you get involved? And what exactly do you do?

I’ve been with the GU since around 2011 I think. I joined when I was working with a large dispatch company that rhymes with Similac. I grew up in Chicago, which has a history of strong unions and union activism, particularly the Teacher’s Union there. I decided to get more involved since as I mentioned, I like knowing how stuff works, and learning more about how labor laws work (or in many cases don’t work) here has helped me help others. I am the chair of the Tokai Branch, which mostly involves trying to help people wade through issues with their employer, or educate people about the rights they have. Japan has a number of surprisingly progressive labor laws, just poor enforcement of them, and a tendency to discourage people from speaking out.

Where does your passion for defending workers’ rights come from? It’s a rather thankless job at times and can come with a lot of headaches and stress. Why do you do it?

Workers deserve to be treated with respect. Before coming to Japan, I used to do some volunteer work with a labor law clinic in the South Bay Area in California. It was maddening seeing what employers would try to get away with simply because they thought they could intimidate people, bully them, or simply pull the wool over their eyes. I really hate that sort of shit (pardon the language).

So, we know the GU stands up for workers rights. But it has also stood up for the arts. The GU has a history of supporting Nagoya Players and we’re very happy to have your support again. Could you please share with us your thoughts on community theater and why you’ve chosen to support it?

Nagoya Players is a wonderful resource for the arts. It’s a real community theater, drawing on people from any background, foreign or Japanese, regardless of skill or talent (I knew jack and shit about acting before doing it), and welcomes anyone willing to just try to do stuff. It helps people find what works for them, and gets them together. I love that. I think we need that more than ever these days, you know? Putting on a show is an enormous task, god knows I know it, but the way teams pull together to do it is really a beautiful thing.

You’re a dad now, a full time teacher and serving as Chair for the Tokai Branch of the GU. What do we need to do to entice you back onto the stage?

Create more hours in the day? I confess I get the itch every once in awhile, but I think my wife would seriously consider stabbing me if I added more things to my plate. Maybe once the kid starts elementary school and is wrapped around my leg a little less XD

Thank you for your time Will. And thanks to all the wonderful people at the GU for all the amazing work they do.

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