WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE…?
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I wish all of you a warm holiday season.
I have worked on the Board of Directors for almost thirty years, and for the last fifteen years/five terms, you have given me the privilege to serve as your President. In fact, I have become the longest-serving President in the community of West Coast IATSE Locals; it seems to have all happened in the blink of an eye.
My involvement in Local 695’s leadership has been closely tied to my passion for filmmaking and I have been fortunate in both pursuits.
When I started my sound career, I was not able to become a member of Local 695 for five years. It was a time when new faces in the Union were not welcomed, but feared, as being competition for too few jobs. But my father taught me, “Failure cannot cope with persistence.”
It was so clear to me that if we did the same work, we could not afford to be enemies; we needed each other to leverage our way to better wages and conditions. I had fire in my belly and this was why I got involved in the Trade Union Movement; that fire remains unquenched to this day.
Unity, inclusion, education, and mentoring; I loudly proclaimed these principles very early in my Local 695 involvement. Seeing how deeply rooted they have now become in our Local’s culture has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
The achievements during my time in Union leadership fill me with humility and pride. They are the result of hard-fought battles on many fronts. Ultimately, they have become pillars of our institution.
The list is long and significant:
A dynamic sense of Community is first among these as we come to realize that we share the same goals, be it contract negotiation, organizing, member services, or compassionate common sense. The International President has recently called us the “Jewel of the IATSE.” Our standing in the industry has skyrocketed because you—the members—have embraced the purpose of your Union and your personal stake in the institution.
Inclusion is the true organizing spirit. We are often the first to arrive and last to leave when the struggle for representation or any other urgent issue is in play.
Education for the membership is essential. For a long time, we had no coherent training policy or program. I made the promise that this must change and now we have broadened a world-class education program to keep our highly skilled technical community abreast of the tsunami-paced changes in our tools.
Organizing and education come together to create the obligation of mentorship. As we have been helped, we must help others. We must help those coming up in their careers. I believe this stewardship preserves and extends the life of our community indefinitely. We have something NO OTHER LOCAL has in the contract!!: our Y-16a training program. The trainee program serves all the parties it touches; the members, the trainee, the employer, and the community.
All of these require Communication; now a broadly respected publication keeps our members and others in the industry well apprised of our essential contribution. When I became a member, we didn’t have a publication, website, or directory. In fact, it was fought against! Now, try to imagine their absence.
What brought services into existence was the persistent will of those of us who would settle for nothing less.
We congratulate our new President, Jillian Arnold. She is a brilliant professional who has served as your Vice President for the last term. She has done the work to prepare for this immense responsibility. She is independent, compassionate, and a careful thinker. I often suspect that she is the smartest person in the room. Jillian deserves your support and certainly has mine. I’ve worked with her to continue the spirit and the vision needed for the complex future ahead.
Speaking of this, I will close with a caution. No Union remains healthy without the aggressive participation of its members. We must become proactive in our relationship with our Union. If we do not do this, we are at great risk. This is a significant responsibility to our families, our community, and ourselves. A Union, unattended by a vocal and informed membership, is a recipe for disaster.
It is up to us to show up and uphold our end of the bargain.
Know your obligations to yourself and your fellow workers as a member. It is not a one-way street and the office is not the police station or hospital emergency room. It is a place where dedicated humans are doing right by the members and enforcing the contracts. It requires the members to take ownership of their affiliation to empower this representation.
Stay informed, not just of your technical education but also of the process and progress of any administration you have serving you. If you’re not happy about something, speak up! If you feel frustrated or intimidated regarding some issue or individual, educate yourself and engage. Never being intimidated is an essential component of the Union movement. It is a critical element in the long-term success and health of any Union.
None of my special journey would have been possible without the rock-solid love and support from my wife, Boom Operator, author, filmmaking partner, and former 695 Board member, the amazing Patrushkha Mierzwa and our two beautiful children, Molly and Max Ulano.
My cup is very full with love of my family and the multitude of lasting friendships that fill my life. My sincere hope is that all of you may be as fortunate.
Much love to you all.
Mark Ulano CAS AMPS
IATSE Local 695