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Organized Labor in Post-Racial America: Where’s the Progress?

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

The civil rights movement and the labor movement are inextricably intertwined because their goals were, and continue to be, essentially the same. 

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez
United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
 

This year on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, during a speech to the AFL-CIO commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit-ins, AAG Perez, the chief civil rights officer of the nation, reminded the gathering that Dr. King had once declared, “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs. Decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old‐age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.” 
 
Perez speculated that if Dr. King were here today, “He would join with you, and with your fellow workers nationwide, in calling for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act to ensure workers can stand up for their rights in the workplace.” 
 
Civil Rights and the Labor Movement 
 
We know civil rights and the labor movements are intertwined, so why is African American membership in Local 600 no more that 1.7 percent according to a 2004 membership survey? 

I’ve been a union member for over three decades. I believe many of my fraternal brothers and sisters are truly revolted by expressions of white supremacy, misogyny, and sexism. I enjoy honest and deep friendships with union members that have stood strong over decades. Together, we have participated in work on set and still participate in activities outside of work. 

Some of my other fellow union members openly have made it clear that they harbor bigoted views. The best of them, however, see the benefit of leaving such divisive views at home. For them, the workplace is about the work before us and the skills people bring to the job. Thus, at work we all are able to achieve a common goal and prosper because of this “progressive” choice.    Read more…
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Categories: Diversity, Progress?

Your Right To Run For Office

May 4, 2010 Leave a comment

The IATSE Convention of 2009 in Orlando, Florida brought with it more exclusionary changes to our union. As members’ rights are poised to be reduced by the so called “Green Ballot”, your rights have already been severely curtailed by a vote pushed through by Steven Poster and Eastern Region Director Chaim Kantor at the IA Convention.

Several of us (now officially named as the evil CDU’ers) spoke out against a new Constitution and By Laws amendment on the Convention floor. Of course, we were reviled by Poster, Kantor and others – as it is their dearest wish to make Local 600 more and more exclusionary – a nice little club… for the chosen few. First class airfare anyone???

In brief, the amendment requires that only “working members” – can run for office. That’s the broad stroke. Federal labor law stipulates that one must be “a member in good standing” and that’s it. As you’ll read the text of the amendment, you’ll see that the hoops you must now jump through in order to qualify to run for office will make it more and more difficult for many members.

Please take a few minutes to read the following text. It will make it clear. Read more…

The Glass Is Cracked

April 11, 2010 1 comment

[Editor’s note: The author of this post has requested that her name be withheld.]

I’ve been a member of Local 600 for a number of years now and I must say that the atmosphere has changed—dramatically—and not in a positive way. I have written and rewritten this piece in order to get my points across and find that my anger with what our union should be versus what it has become will come off as a harsh diatribe. What this ‘essay’ has become (and because it became quite lengthy I’ve divided it into multiple parts) is a way to vent frustration. I’ve heard some similar frustrations from other L600 members, but nevertheless here are my views:

The Glass is Cracked

As a rule, I try to see the glass as half full, but I must say that my opinion of “The Union” and how it serves its members is rather low right now.  After fighting tooth and nail to get in–having worked as a 2nd AC outside CA for 3 years, both Union and non-union, gaining experience wherever I could, I finally decided to make the move to CA and join the Union in hopes of improving my job skills, income, and quality of life. (Read: Health Insurance).   But when I got here, the Union would not accept my 300 Union days out of CA, even though they were with CA based shows.  And while I had to work another 100 days here in LA on non-union low-budget (deferment-my-ass) shows, work for free on many other no-budget meaningless fodder, and scrape together enough money to make a down payment to join the Union, I have watched members’ children slide in that door after 30 days on a Union show.  And I’ve been appalled to learn they are often working those 30 days while there are Union MEMBERS, like ME (and maybe YOU) on the AVAILABILITY LIST, dying for work, in desperate need of hours!  WTF?!?

Protections. What Protections?

Whatever happened to protecting the members?  These young guns slide into a job they feel they are entitled to have, they sometimes work half as hard as others, and still get rehired because of who they know or who their dad/uncle/brother is. (If you are one of these aforementioned members don’t kill the messenger; understand the inequity and frustration expressed here). Of course kids of members should be able to join the Union.  But shouldn’t they be held to the same standards as those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be born into the family? I don’t care whose son you are, if you’re not in the Union, you shouldn’t be allowed to work on a Union show unless every single one of us are working.

Read more…

Categories: Diversity, Election 2010