Local 706 - The Artisan

Spring 2016

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6 LOCAL LOCAL PERSPECTIVE BY TOMMY COLE Business Representative, I.A.T.S.E. Local 706 In 1994, when I was first elected to our Executive Board, Local 706 very rarely got involved in politics or actively tried to help get someone elected or supported any legislation one way or the other. We would donate money to small causes locally, but we didn't pay much attention to who was running for what, or quite frankly, what someone's political leanings were. We lived in our own safe bubble and stayed far away from controversy. The only subject we were clear on was that we were make-up and hair artisans. We didn't realize what political clout in the right place could accomplish to help labor succeed in the political arena, and ultimately, improve the lives of our members. Now, let's jump forward to the last 13 years or so. As this Local got more involved in the political process, we realized that if we (the unions) were to survive as a viable workforce here in California, and get things done politically for our members, we had to have influence in the right places; for California, that meant Los Angeles and more importantly, Sacramento and the governor. To reach that goal, we needed the support of labor-friendly politicians/legislators who would not only speak for us locally, but send our labor messages to the right people in Sacramento, legislators in the "room" who would aid and lobby for us. Less than two years ago, using that same strategy, we succeeded in bringing work back to California in the form of AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act. Labor leaders up and down the state joined collectively and formed the EUC, Entertainment Union Coalition, to raise money with support from their locals and concerned busi- nesses and organizations … anyone who would write a check; we wrote ads, letters, had special union meetings and rallies, and made trips to Sacramento … all to bring awareness and advocacy for legislation to even the playing field in our fight to keep our work here in California. In the end, we were able to reach a majority of bipartisan California legislators who saw the wisdom in raising our state's incentives to a competitive level to bring work back to our state and stop the usurping of our lifeblood … film and television to other states, and to bring back our work and the tax dollars that the film and television industry had previously generated for our state. Because of the overwhelming backing of our Boards and our members, Local 706 was able to be part of the financial sup- port for the EUC; we put boots on the ground; we went to Sacramento and knocked on legislators' doors with hundreds of other union officers and union members, and ultimately, our governor signed AB 1839 into law. Now we are enjoying the rewards of our efforts … many produc- tions have returned or are not leaving in the first place; more new projects are now in the works or being planned, and soundstages are full. Film and TV location shoots are filming not only on the streets of Los Angeles, but are busy all over California. Thanks to "politics" and working together, we accomplished what a lot of folks thought was a pipe- dream. We collectively protected our livelihoods by being active participants in the political process, by supporting politicians who are advocates for unions and labor, and using that clout to our advantage. As you all know, we are in the middle of a presidential/congressional election year. With that, I am now going to put my union rep hat on and state a hard fact to our members … you are in a LABOR union, and you are going to have to take sides. If you wish to continue to enjoy what your union has fought for since our inception in 1937 … the right to collective bargain, pen- sion and health benefits, contracts with good working conditions, overtime, turnaround, representation in the workplace, and a large spectrum of wages and opportuni- ties, please take this article seriously. If all this is important to you, it would be in your best interest to vote for labor–friendly candidates. How the presidency and Congress plays out in November will shape unionism not only in California, but in the United States for years to come. Just sayin' … Please enjoy this issue of The Artisan. Sincerely and Fraternally, … you are in a LABOR union, and you are going to have to take sides. " "

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