UNION STRONG, UNION STRONG, UNION STRONG…

I’m feeling something coming alive in this union, a sense of engagement, ownership and, yes, optimism. The empowering of our members as active participants in their collective professional destinies have never seemed so evident. We are writing new chapters of our history together by virtue of the surging activism from our members. We’re seeing record turnouts for our training classes, Board meetings, membership meetings, organizing drives, picket lines, benefit events and very significantly, our Young Workers Committee.

I’ve been attending many union gatherings in recent weeks, the California Labor Federation Biennial Convention, Local 695 General Membership Meeting, the IATSE General Executive Board Meeting and the IATSE District 2 Convention. The importance of the US presidential election has brought a certain energy to all these events and has revealed to me that the current turning point in the broader culture is reflected within our union culture. People are aroused to action and change is in the air. I see it as a change for the better and in the interest of the working men and women of this country and certainly, this industry. We have been a harbinger of growth and demonstrated a leadership trend in successful organizing locally and nationally in a difficult environment for Labor.

Quoting a recent AFL-CIO communique on Internal Organizing:

“Determined to build power for working people in today’s political climate, unions across the country are recharging efforts to reach out to new members and increase engagement among existing ones.”

We are a microcosm of this phenomena, especially in the private sector where 90 percent of us statistically self-identify as members of the labor union movement in the US.

This means not seeing the union as a third party, but as a tool for joining together for common interest, seeing things in terms of building something good, rather than only eliminating the bad and most importantly, seeing ourselves as working people “making life better for our families, through collective advancement.”

So, a few principles to consider under the heading of Internal Organizing:

•  Power in numbers

•  Making a commitment and participate in your union as a stakeholder

•  Bringing change with knowledge and persistence

•  Strengthening our communities through enlightened self-interest

•  Retake the reins and set the rules, own it

•  Negotiate collectively for legitimate leverage

“Coming together, we can get a fair return for our work, paid time to be home when our families need us and a more secure retirement. By acting in union, we have the power to make our communities better and win at work.”

In this issue, you’ll read about the physical rebirth of the Local’s building and I hope you’ll understand how much this represents the genuine revitalization of Local 695’s membership community. I’ve been privileged to be a member since 1983 and I believe our union connection is the best vehicle for all of us as we journey the beginning of a sea change in the larger culture regarding the worth and rights of working people.

Warmest fraternal regards,
Mark Ulano CAS AMPS
Local 695 President