Q1 2018

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9 Q1 2018 / CINEMONTAGE GET TING ORGANIZED by Rob Callahan A n interminable freeze in New York. Thirty-eight minutes of existential dread in Hawaii. The grinding dysfunction of our political system nationwide. The loss of 30 seconds off the Doomsday Clock globally. The burnish has already worn off of 2018. So how are your resolutions coming along? Many of us invest the changing of the year with optimistic aspirations, imagining that swapping our dog- eared calendars for fresh ones will afford opportunities for renewal, even reinvention. We resolve this year to do things differently: Exercise more, indulge our basest appetites less, learn new skills and new ways, bring into being better versions of ourselves... Experience shows, though, that a lot of these ambitions don't survive long. Indeed, many are abandoned well before February's groundhog hazards a furtive scouting of the wan winter sunlight — before, even, the first quarter issue of CineMontage reaches its readers. Self-improvement ain't my line; I'm not the go-to guy for those trying to maintain the fortitude to forgo that enticing doughnut. As an organizer, I coach folks who seek to improve not themselves, but their jobs. Deciding to organize in the workplace is itself a kind of resolution — one appropriate for the new year or any other time a change is warranted. It can have a more profound impact upon one's quality of life than many of the superficial adjustments to personal habits we might attempt as part of a program of self-betterment. Given the proportion of our waking hours spent at work, acquiring more power on the job can mean more to our well-being than merely managing to curl somewhat larger dumbbells at the gym. Like projects of self-improvement, organizing demands resolve. People intent upon improving their jobs, though, don't merely face obstacles of inertia, laziness and temptation. Usually they face active resistance from bosses determined to frustrate their organizing. Such intransigence typically includes campaigns of fear-mongering engineered to shake employees' resolve. Last year's labor news offered us two prominent examples of union-busting efforts from employers endeavoring to sow doubts and sap their employees' will to organize. In the summer of 2017, the management of Nissan ran an aggressive campaign to discourage workers at its Canton, Mississippi plant from electing to organize with the United Auto Workers. And last fall, the management of the Los Angeles Times campaigned hard to dissuade its employees from organizing with the NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America. Both efforts hammered on the themes common to all such anti-union campaigns: raising anxieties about strikes and dues, accusing the unions of making false promises, suggesting that collective bargaining could result in reduced compensation and benefits for employees, and characterizing the unions as outside entities that would inhibit employees' ability to speak for themselves. Both were textbook campaigns, drawing upon a store of prepared talking points, techniques and printed materials that union-busting consultants have at the ready to deploy wherever and whenever employees show the desire to build a union. Although similar in many respects, these two union-busting campaigns had very different outcomes. Nissan's efforts succeeded in breaking the Mississippi autoworkers' resolve; in August 2017, after weeks of relentless anti-union messaging, employees voted against organizing by a margin of almost two-to-one. "You ever heard of telepathic power? It was like that," one Nissan employee told the publication Labor Notes, describing the intensity and effectiveness of Nissan's campaign. "They were in our heads 24-7." Management prevailed in a big way at Nissan, but the LA Times' union-busting campaign failed just as dramatically. In early January, those employees elected to organize with the News Guild by a vote of nearly 85 percent, Resolve vs. Intransigence The Key to Organizing a Workplace Deciding to organize in the workplace is itself a kind of resolution — one appropriate for the new year or any other time a change is warranted.

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