We are all in this together.
I love football. I began playing when I was just eight years old and continued playing and coaching into my twenties. In 1988, I started looking for a way I could stay involved with the game. I reached out to the San Fernando Valley Football Official’s Association and eventually began officiating high school and college games in my spare time. Thirty-five years later, I thought I’d seen everything. That was until January 2nd. By now, I’m guessing that most of you already know about the incident that occurred during Monday Night Football. Buffalo Bills second-year safety Darmar Hamlin made the sort of tackle I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of times in my career. Then he collapsed and, shortly thereafter, was rushed to the hospital. This twenty-four-year-old man had suffered a heart attack.
Tragic though this may have been, it also reminded me of why I love this game. Every time I have seen a player go down, everyone on the field has come together in solidarity and support of the injured player. At that moment, there are no sides. There is just an injured player and we rally around them. We pray that one of our own stands up and walks off the field no worse for wear. Once Damar was on his way to the hospital, the NFL and television networks were in discussion about what to do and whether or not they should continue the game. However, in an act of solidarity between both teams, the players, coaches, and trainers all decided they would not continue the game. These players were able to take a stand when they believed it was the right thing to do and the game was ultimately canceled. Football is a true team sport. If you understand what it takes to play this game, then you understand how much your teammates become a part of your family.
Similarly, our union is a team, and, by extension, that makes our union a family. When one of our own needs support, it is our responsibility to be there for one another. I’m not just referring to the office or your union leadership. As members of this Alliance, we all have a responsibility to each other; a responsibility to join in solidarity with one another to do the things that no individual could do alone.
In 2024, the next contract negotiations for the IATSE Basic Agreement will begin. Your elected leadership has already started having meetings and discussions about our focus for these negotiations. We will build from the gains we achieved in 2021. However, we cannot do it alone. We need your help. Throughout the year, there will be town hall meetings to discuss the strategy for the negotiations and assess what core issues need to be addressed. So, keep an eye out for emails from the Local that will give you information how you can participate in the discussions. Our members are our eyes and ears on the set. All of you have a unique perspective into what’s going on in Hollywood and those perspectives are essential to the discussion that will take place as we workshop the proposals submitted to the negotiating committee. Every email you get from the Local includes links you can use to report the working conditions on your productions. We need to know which productions, studios, and networks are following the agreement and treating you well and which ones are not. We need real-world examples to take to the bargaining table. Please remember that when these problems are not reported to the office, we cannot correct the working conditions at the bargaining table.
The fantastic news is Damar is back home in Buffalo recovering with his family. Sometimes we need time to heal from the blows we take. That’s part of life. Let me finish with my wish for you and your family in 2023. I wish you a prosperous and healthy new year. We are part of your family; we are here to support and help you.
Scott Bernard, Business Representative