12/07/2007

Solidarnosc

(The following is from Teamster Member, John Jabaley. The opinions expressed are not the IBT's point of view, but John's.)

Where I grew up in the deep south in the 1970's, union was a dirty word. Even in my family, conspicuously liberal (in our neighborhood, at least) for our attendance of public schools, unions were considered a way for workers to loaf on the job without being punished. Coming from the management side of the equation, most people I knew were happy they didn't have to deal with workers who stuck together.

I sailed through childhood with this belief essentially unchallenged.

My first exposure to the power that people can wield came with the news coverage of the Polish labor movement headed by a shipyard worker named Lech Walesa. The signs, handmade on sheets, painted in blood for all I knew, said "Solidarnosc." The word was at once both familiar and exotic, and the concept was simple to anyone with a basic knowledge of American History. In union there is strength. Only together can we stand.

When I came to California to be a movie star my first job was as a laborer in the art department of one of the larger non union production companies. When I left I was working as both Production & Location manager for $175.00 a day. No residuals. No benefits. No pension.

I didn't appreciate what I had been missing until I started working on union films, and realized that on union films, workers have a right to be safe. We have a right to overtime. We have a right to healthcare and pensions.

We have these rights, but it hasn't always been this way, and for many in our industry it still isn't. We only have these rights because someone before us carried a picket sign and saw their bank account go to hell. They carried a picket sign and were attacked by their fellow workers who wanted them to give up and get back to work. They carried a picket sign anyway, and they took to the streets and they marched. They marched in the sun, they marched in the rain, and they stayed there until they got the benefits that we enjoy today.

Today the WGA is still carrying signs, fighting right now to extend these benefits to the writers at Fremantle, the producers of American Idol and other "reality" fare. And because of pattern bargaining, they're working to extend union benefits to the electricians, the drivers, the grips and the rest of the crew.

Today the WGA is still carrying signs, fighting to extend the residual system to the internet. And because of pattern bargaining, they're fighting to ensure future residual payments to the health and benefit plans of IATSE, the Teamsters and all other below the line workers covered by the Motion Picture Health and Benefit plans.

Today the WGA is still carrying signs, and they've got extras.

John Jabaley
Location Manager
IBT, Local 399

6 comments:

Anthony Ross said...

Hey, you guys want us to support you then STOP BLOCKING OUR WAY!! Do not, anymore, block our way to the store, work, or play.

I'll start backing the producers if you continue to piss me off.

J. said...

Thank you, John. My father was a Teamster who worked the Mason Dixon trucking line. I grew up believing in unions. Now that I am part of the WGA, it means a lot to know that men like you are standing strong and standing united with us.

Your letter is powerful and deeply appreciated.

Here in Topeka said...

This idiot can't seriously be comparing this little hissy fit between two selfish parties to Poland's Solidarity movement.

In Poland the strike was AGAINST an opressive, totalitarian regime.

This strike is about getting to make more money for propping up corporations with (usually) mindless pablum-like content.

The writers aren't Polish laborers. They don't want to make things better. They just want to make more money.

I think they should, they are in the right on this one.

But then again that's a bit like saying cancer of the writer if better than cancer of the AMPTP.

Either one is going to help eat up the country.

GET OVER YOURSELVES!

Kate Purdy said...

My parents are public school teachers. I learned early on how important union solidarity is. Thanks for the moving post John.

Helen said...

John,

You're a Teamster *and* a writer. What a beautiful post. Thanks for your words of support.

serena said...

When I was a child growing up in Marin County, my father went to court to fight AGAINST the Teamsters Union and won. So, his only daughter grows up, moves to LA and joins the Teamsters Union ( Locations). In 2007 I worked on a wonderful UNION TV show with outstanding writers. The show goes on hiatus. To fill the down time, I pre-scout for a movie called "Summer Romance". The Company is Fox Atomics (part of Fox Studios). When they couldn't figure out how to do my paperwork, and hadn't paid me for 2 weeks, I called my Union. What I found out is that Fox Atomics is not signatory with our Union. Neither is Fox 2000 or Fox Searchlight. My only legal recourse was through the State of California. I was lucky that the Location Rep at my Union called the Mother Ship, Fox Studios, who made sure I got paid ( a month later). Maybe they felt bad because the "little location scout" was being screwed with; while Mr. Murdock (sp?) was trying to buy the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journel for Billions of dollars. Without my Union stepping in, this production company would have done as it pleased. Which is not give a crap about about me.
When this movie went into production, Fox Atomic told production not to use me because I "stirred the pot". Happy to report they shut down completely a week later. Karma, gotta love it.
UNIONS are important in this business, they keep us from being abused.
Everything I scout comes from the writers scripts. They deserve what is fair, and if they have to go on strike to get it....then stand behind them. Signed, Teamster #399