At the beginning of each new year, I like to take some time to reflect back on the previous one and evaluate the progress we’ve made as a union. What were our accomplishments? What could we have done better? What more can we be doing to improve the quality of life and working conditions for our members?
To be sure, 2021 was a year of unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc on all of our personal lives, casting an aura of doubt and anxiety over us all. Many of us lost loved ones and continue to struggle in their absence. All the while, the negotiations surrounding our Basic Agreement with the AMPTP dragged on for months, with the employers unwilling to hear the voices of our members. Time and time again, they would ignore our proposals to address long overdue improvements to the conditions our brothers, sisters, and kin in the union endured every day. Proceedings stalled out as negotiations gave way to gridlock.
Then you got involved and demanded that they listen.
By a near-unanimous margin, you voted to give the International President the power to call for a strike. When we returned to the bargaining table with this tool at our disposal, doors that had previously been closed to us were suddenly open. Proposals that addressed meal period abuse and daily & weekend turnaround abuses were agreed upon. Wages increased. New funding for our healthcare plan was secured. Here at the Local, we are proud of the significant gains that were made.
However, no one believes our work is done. We are already hard at work building for the next set of negotiations. We never stop. There are always improvements to be made and gains to be had. But we cannot do it alone. We need you to stay involved in your Local. It was only with your help that we prevailed in 2021, and 2024 will be no different. Consider joining one of our member committees. Local 695 has 15 member committees designed to explore solutions to the challenges that members face every day. Some committees communicate with the Executive Board to give guidance; some report to the Executive Board on issues of jurisdiction, safety, on-set working condition, and overall quality of life for the membership. All of them help to inform us of your needs and set our goals for the future.
The attacks on unions are never ending, and it’s up to us to defend our work. No one else can do it for us. On that note, I’d like to thank those of you who call in and report safety and contract violations.
However, we know that for every call we receive, there are many more violations occurring. Call your Local if you see unsafe working conditions or non-695 members doing Local 695 work. It may not be your job today, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow.
In other news, you may have already heard that Brother Laurence Abrams has made the jump into retirement. Laurence joined the staff in 2007 and I’ve had the pleasure of working side by side with him in the years that have followed. His commitment to the members, to his union, and all his efforts to help build a better union will be sorely missed. Laurence, thank you for always answering the phone when I called, no matter the day or time. I will forever be grateful for your passion and friendship. Laurence laid a strong foundation for the future, and taking over the reins is Local 695 member James Delhauer.
James comes to the staff with a strong background, having earned a degree in television & broadcast journalism from Chapman University and having worked as one of our Y-7 Engineers for the better part of the last decade. He has also been a contributor to our quarterly magazine, Production Sound & Video, over the last several years and was promoted to Co-editor in 2020. We’ve already had several meetings to discuss opportunities for member engagement and we look forward to working with you all to build a better Local 695. Keep an eye on your emails for caucus information, focus group initiatives, and membership surveys.