Success With a Side of Mistakes

Posted by E-Board | Dec 28th, 2012 | Tags:

Success with a side of mistakes

We at local 748 have taken a breather over the Holiday to enjoy our families and friends and now it is back to work. Our first order of business is an official statement regarding the recent Pac 12 action. We received many good questions and we decided to meet with our local lawyer to get clarity.

Firstly, we'd like to share some of the incredible stories that came out of the action. We had amazing solidarity throughout all the regions which eventually lead to the action being resolved in 10 days with the Pac 12 agreeing to talk with IATSE to develop a long term working relationship. In California we had a director and producer turn in their credentials and picket. We had an electrician refuse to hook up power and when the Pac 12 tried to get a generator, the first delivery was stopped because the driver refused to cross a picket line. We had 2 board shows refuse to supply video feeds to the Pac 12 broadcasts. There were many more stories of solidarity that brought this action to swift and successful close.

Unfortunately, as with all fast moving situations, things get missed and mistakes get made. The current e-board has prided itself on being up front and honest about our mistakes and is taking steps to ensure they're never made again. Our first step was to meet with our lawyer yesterday and get a full understanding of the definition of Strikes and Picketing and which laws apply when a union engages in strike and picketing activity. Our next step was to accelerate the launching of our new website and social media platforms. We had originally planned to launch our website and Facebook pages in early January. When it became clear the word was not getting out fast enough, Eric spent a sleepless night getting the site finished and launching the Facebook page. We sent out numerous emails and spread our social media platforms in an effort to speed up communication and make it as accessible as possible. We will be the first to admit this was our first action as an e-board and we made mistakes. We did our best to spread what information we had and we have learned a lot that future e-boards will benefit from.

We have received many questions during and after the action so let us conclude by answering the most common questions.

Q: What was this action?
A: This action was a strike and a picket line. A strike is a refusal to work by employees and/or a union against an employer. A picket line is a means by which a message can be sent. It can advise employees that there is a strike in progress in an effort to tell other employees to refuse to work for that employer. It serves to notify the public of what is happening in the hope that potential customers or others will cease doing business with the employer due to the strike. It can be used to notify the public that an employer is not treating its employees in a fair manner. In our case, the International declared Pac 12 an unfair employer so our picket line was to inform the public of this declaration. There was confusion by the e-board on the type of action and we mistakenly said it wasn't a strike when in fact it was. We were on strike against Pac 12 Enterprises. We were also picketing to let the public, along with our members and all employees, know of our problems with the Pac 12 Enterprises.

Q: Why were we on strike?
A: We were on strike because Pac 12 was declared an unfair employer because they were not paying area standard wages in all markets. In the case of Arizona, they were directly hiring employees for certain CBA covered positions, which means they were not honoring the entire CBA we have with the local employer (crewer) resulting in lost work opportunities for the employees who we represent.

Q: How was this strike legal?
A: The following was declared by International President Loeb on Dec 7: "After consideration of the inherent danger with this employer paying less than area standards wages and benefits for employees working in the Sports Broadcast industry, and in accordance with Article Seven, Section 10 of the International Constitution, I am hereby declaring Pac 12 Network/Pac 12 Enterprises, Inc., as being unfair and order you to refrain from rendering any service to this employer." This declaration by the International was consistent with the law and, therefore, it was a legally sanctioned action. A union is not limited to striking an employer with which it has a contract as suggested by one question. In fact, it generally cannot engage in such action as it would violate the “no-strike” provision of the agreement. It is perfectly lawful for a union to picket an employer with which it has a dispute whether or not it represents the employees of that employer. There are different rules applicable to the picketing, depending on a wide range of fact situations. Our strike action and picketing fully complied with all of the requirements of the law.

Q: How can we strike against our local crewers?
A: The strike was against Pac 12 Enterprises. Because our local crewers were engaging in hiring for Pac 12, they became “allied” Pac 12. As part of the strike against Pac 12, we set up an informational picket at the job sites. Section 8 of the CBA's with our local employers states "It shall be understood by and between both parties to this Agreement that a lawful IATSE picket line, sanctioned by the International President, shall not constitute a cause for discipline as defined by this Agreement." This gives protection to the employees to honor the sanctioned picket line.

Q: Why wasn't I told the strike was going to occur?
A: We informed membership the Tuesday before the action it would occur and we made every effort to inform everyone on the ASU crew the morning of its occurrence. We were under no obligation to tell anyone of the action. One of the benefits of membership and attending meetings is getting information ahead of time. There were also people supplying information to the Pac 12 and as we didn't know who/where these individuals were, we were instructed to not tell people until the last minute to ensure maximum effect of the action.

Q: Why was communication so lacking?
A: We had a Twitter account set up and as soon as we had information, we sent it out. Part of the challenge of this is we were also running a picket line and on the phone constantly to get instruction. After the first day, we realized we needed better communication so we set up a Facebook page and new website and sent a mass email through our email system to all freelancers announcing the launching of these new avenues and many people took advantage. If you did not receive our mass email or updates, please send us your most current address at businessagent@iatse748.com. Also, we have an 888 number set up which is always posted on Iatse748.com.

In closing, we are so proud of the support received in Phoenix and Tucson. We were humbled by your support and thrilled this action was resolved so quickly. The solid show of support by the members of this Local helped send a strong message to Pac 12 officials which has resulted in the initiation of negotiations.

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