by Eva Rismanforoush & Timothy O’Malley
We live in an era where labor unions are facing a global decline, yet in recent years, the I.A.T.S.E. has managed to increase its membership against the odds. This is in part due to political activism programs. The Young Workers Committee (YWC) is one of those institutions. Created by President Matthew D. Loeb, it aims to welcome new members and to get workers under the age of 35 politically involved. Most committees have been active since 2012 and the numbers are growing in each Local. Every two years, YWC members from all over the United States and Canada have a chance to meet at the biennial Young Workers Conference, an opportunity for receiving educational training, sharing experiences and networking.
As part of our Local 695 Young Workers political action agenda, we will provide you with quarterly reports on current legislative trends that directly affect the I.A.T.S.E. and Local 695.
relating to or promoting a worker’s right not to be required to join a labor union. “Kansas is a right-to-work state.”
Parts of the Taft-Hartley Act restrict striking rights of labor unions and their negotiating power. They also prohibit unions from requiring a worker to contribute fi nancially, even when the worker is covered by their collective bargaining agreement. In a right-to-work state, the union provides all legal funds and protections to negotiate a fair contract. Any employee may receive those benefi ts, but without the obligation of joining and paying dues.
According to contemporary right-wing think tanks, such as the Legal Defense Foundation and the Heritage Foundation, “Every American worker should be able to pursue employment without the obligation of joining a union.” While this notion may sound like a noble cause—perhaps due to the fact that the word “Right” is in the title—it is much rather a semantic disguise for a bill solely purposed to bankrupt organizations such as the IA.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
American labor unions are organized associations of workers formed to protect and further workers’ rights and interests. Collectively, workers have a much greater chance on improving workplace safety, earn a living wage, and collect health & pension hours. The collective buying power of its members is also used to negotiate consumer benefi t programs for working families.
The burden of asking an employer for such basic needs is thereby lifted from the individual. Unions set a fair bottom line for everyone in the form of a contract.
California productions operate under a closed-shop contract. Our IA union security clause ensures only vetted members in good standing are eligible to work on projects under contract. It is a mutually benefi cial system that ensures a level of job security and benefi ts to employees, while providing employers with a well-trained & highly skilled workforce.
To declare a union membership optional is a predatory strategy to fi nancially weaken the bargaining power of the entire workforce.
The rate of workplace fatalities is 49 percent higher in right-to-work states.
Infant mortality is increased by 12.4 percent and educational spending per pupil is 32 percent lower than in states that harbor strong unions.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE NEW BILL?
The bill was introduced to Congress on February 1, 2017. H.R.785 has since been referred to the House Committee on Education and Workforce. It has since gained twentytwo Republican co-sponsors. To view the most current details and actions on H.R.785, please visit congress.gov
WHAT’S THE FISCAL IMPACT OF RIGHT-TO-WORK?
Since 1947, twenty-eight states have adopted right-towork laws, including Kentucky joining in 2017. Over the past fi ve decades, US Census reports have shown signifi – cant economic disparities between union-secured and right-to-work states. The American Federation of Labor [AFL-CIO] lists an average wage decrease of 13.9 percent in a median household income ($50,712 to $58,886 per year). This translates into an average loss of $8,147 annually per household.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
A short-term strategy proven successful is to directly contact your congressmen and congresswomen. California holds fi fty-three seats in the House of Representatives. You can visit house.gov to obtain your representative’s detailed contact information. Should H.R.785 pass in the House, California senators Dianne Feinstein & Kamala Harris can be reached through senate.gov. Simply calling and leaving a voice-mail stating your concern can have a direct impact.
A great long-term plan to combat anti-union legislation is to contribute to the IA’s new Political Action Committee (PAC). The PAC fund is completely voluntary and enables the IA to have a seat at the table in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Visit iatse.net to sign up for a monthly donation.
The United States is a democratic republic. Citizens can choose their political representatives. So take part in local elections. Even though most of us work extra-long hours, California lets you register to vote online and mail-in ballots are available for each election.
Most importantly, educate and embrace new members!
Stay informed, care and make your voice heard!
“IATSE Labor Union, Representing the Technicians, Artisans and Craftpersons in the Entertainment Industry.” IATSE Young Workers | IATSE Labor Union. IATSE, 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Sherk, James. “Right-to-Work Laws: Myth vs. Fact.” The Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation, 12 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
NRTW. “National Right to Work Foundation » Your Right to Work Rights—In Three Minutes.” National Right to Work Foundation. NRTW, 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Isbell, Jesse. “Right to Work Is Wrong for Your Family— Whether You Are Union or Not. Here’s Why.” AFL-CIO. American Federation of Labor, 4 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Ungar, Rick. ‘“Right-to-Work’ Laws Explained, Debunked and Demystifi ed.” Forbes. Forbes magazine, 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Eidelson, Josh. “Unions Are Losing Their Decades—Long ‘Right-to-Work’ Fight.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 16 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
Offi ce of the United States Attorneys. “2413. Outline of 29 U.S.C. 186 (Taft-Hartley Act Sec. 302).” The United States Department of Justice. United States Department of Justice— U.S. Attorneys Manual, 1997. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
National Labor Relations Board. “NLRB.gov.” The 1935 Passage of the Wagner Act | NLRB. NLRB.gov, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.