Sunday, June 24, 2012
Not the title of an indie sci-fi film, but a medium-sized IATSE convention held this weekend in Reno, Nevada ...
I've attended District conventions for the entire time I've served as Animation Guild business representative. What they are is gatherings of IA locals in Hawaii and a cluster of Western states. They occur annually, and they are usually filled with education seminars, fiery political speeches by politicians who support labor (there's a surprise), and advocacy for fraternity, equality, and liberty.
... Also higher wages and better working conditions. (Another surprise.)
In years gone by, TAG's President Tom Sito was one of the first union officers to publically advocate health coverage for same-sex couples, and I supported a renegade candidate for District Two Secretary-Treasurer. (Nobody else was willing to nominate him.)
This time around, the convention was larger than usual and people were energized.
IA President Matt Loeb gave a speech detailing the change in attitudes by the studios negotiating labor contracts. He described how negotiations for new labor contracts have turned nasty and rancorous, and that this likely reflects newer corporate attitudes toward labor in general and entertainment unions and guilds in particular.
And beyond unpleasant negotiations, unions in general are under attack by billionaires with money to burn, and we had several barn-burner speeches about anti union initiatives percolating in California and elsewhere.
Everybody at the convention understood that their middle class life-style was on the line. Everybody got that we are out-matched in the moolah department, and that if there is any hope of turning back the Koch brothers and their allies, minds will need to be concentrated, wits gathered, and action taken. Nobody kids themselves that they can match the oncoming campaign dollar for dollar.
The IATSE is making strides in boosting its political PAC, and several thousand dollars was raised from delegates. It isn't nearly enough, but it's better than four quarters in a tin cup. One speaker said earlier today: "Labor, decimated though it is, is still the last line of defense for working people to make a decent living and enjoy a dignified retirement."
There's lots hanging on the elections in November. The delegates up in Reno signalled clearly they're acutely aware of the high stakes.
Posted by Steve Hulett at 11:09 PM