I get asked this question many times. There are still people who do not understand the benefits of joining a union. I could list a hundred reasons why unions matter, but I’ll stick to the core seven.
1. Money: Generally speaking, union jobs pay more than nonunion jobs. Yes, IATSE does have several contracts that have lower wages than the Basic Agreement, but these shows would have even lower wages if they were nonunion, and there would be no benefits. Union jobs generally pay significantly more than nonunion jobs. If you ask any nonunion employer why they don’t sign a union contract, they’ll tell you they don’t want to pay better wages and provide benefits.
2. Benefits: Health insurance, pensions, individual retirement account plan, holidays, overtime premiums. These are only some of the benefits enjoyed by IATSE union members. As a member, you have access to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, The Actors Fund and many other resources to help you when times are tough. If you need training for a new career outside the motion picture industry, it can be provided through the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Both of these organizations have helped hundreds of Local 695 members in times of need.
3. Safety: A union contract gives employees the immediate right to address unsafe conditions. If you ever encounter an unsafe working condition on production, call this Local’s office immediately or call the IATSE 24- hour IATSE Safety Hotline at (844) 422-9273. No job is worth risking serious injury or even losing your life.
4. Dignity: Union workers are treated better than nonunion workers. Employers have a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with working conditions they must follow. This helps to even the playing field between the employer and union members. The employer knows if they violate the CBA, the union has the right to file a grievance to protect the rights of their members working under the CBA.
5. Security: The CBA gives members a level of security that nonunion employees do not enjoy. If you are fired improperly from your job, the union will represent you. Unions have been at the forefront of ending the barriers that held back women and minorities.
6.Training: Union workers have better training and as a result, are better employees. Union members have additional training available to them to allow them to FROM THE BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVE move up to higher paying positions. Employers realize the benefits of hiring a trained union worker.
7. Activism: You must get involved with your union and support the politicians who stand up in support of the Middle Class. It’s not a coincidence that the decline of the Middle Class began with the decline of union membership. That decline has meant more citizens are working in lower wage jobs, without health insurance and without the means to save for retirement.
Unions matter today more than ever if we want to rebuild the Middle Class. In November, you have choices to make. Who do you want in a government office to represent you and the working men and women of this country? We must vote for the politicians that stand up for Labor, that stand up for the working Middle Class. Don’t continue to elect the same people who don’t support unions and the Middle Class.
I quote IATSE President Matthew Loeb:
“Organized labor has been under siege for too long and in order to overcome some of the challenges we face, we must increase our involvement in the political process or lose the ability to protect our members nationwide. We cannot afford to allow anti-worker politicians to blame workers for the problems that are the product of irresponsibility on the part of others. Our voice must be heard on the local level as well as the national level and we have the opportunity to act and not just stand by as our rights are stripped away.”
So how do we fight back? Join me and your IASTE Brothers and Sisters who contribute to the IATSE–PAC (Political Action Committee) Stand Up, Fight Back campaign. Very soon, in your start paperwork, you’ll find a form to sign up for the IATSE–PAC. I strongly encourage you to join me and many of your IATSE Brothers and Sisters who have decided to “Stand Up, Fight Back.” To learn more, go to the Local 695 website or call me at (818) 985-9204. If the Middle Class is going to return, it’s up to the unions to make it happen.