Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why We Pay Union Dues

Some time back, I received a question from one of my IBEW Local 1212 Brothers at WPIX regarding why we pay union dues, when the non-union guy editing in the edit room next to his did not.

Wow, where to begin?

First, while shared jurisdiction allows WPIX to hire both represented and non-represented editors, we, as IBEW members, are paid substantially more than the non-union editor. This is true at the IATSE and NABET shops as well.

The union provides shop stewards to help with workplace issues offering the strength of collective bargaining and the grievance/arbitration process for larger problem resolution.

Grievances filed and moving towards arbitration regarding how WPIX manages shared jurisdiction should end in a positive result for our members. This process is not available to non-represented employees.

The union raises the baseline wages, benefits, and working conditions for members through collective bargaining.That non-union engineer is paid better because union rates bring up non-union rates to discourage organizing.

The union is only as valuable and useful as the commitment of it's membership. IATSE Local 1 meetings get hundreds of members attending, IBEW meetings get less than a dozen most of the time, then we wonder why the situation is where it is. We must strive to do better.

The fellow who asked the question is one of our best and brightest. Engineers like him are the ones with the wherewithal to facilitate the changes we need to make our union strong and responsive to our members. He, and others like him, are key players in our efforts.

We finally have some good people at the International and the IBEW Local 1212 hall. We have opened a dialog with NABET and IATSE through the New York Broadcast Trades Council for our mutual benefit. Give the leadership some feedback and support, and we'll all get even more value for our union dues.

Our industry is shrinking. Consolidation, automation, LNS, and changing business models in broadcasting will continue to cause staff reductions.

We need to think outside the box, organize every non-management employee that does not have union representation at every TV station and production company. We need to organize the workers at the new server farms where the networks will be running multiple master control rooms. We need to organize in all new media.

To do this, we must promulgate a contract that is freelancer friendly, with good wages and easily reached benefit thresholds.

We must also support those members that will be leaving the broadcast industry for new endeavors. Career counciling and coaching needs to be made available through our unions.

Woody Allen said "98% of success is showing up". Our people have to start showing up, not just to work, but to union meetings. The challenges we face require everyone's help, not just the usual suspects.

I have always been a trade unionist and believe that we are indeed our brother's keepers. There is no limit to what can be accomplished by workers standing together against the short sightedness and greed of big corporations.

Remember what Benjamin Franklin said to the members of the First Continental Congress:"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."


Bob D

Robert R. Daraio
Recording Secretary
New York Broadcast Trades Council
45 Hunter Street
Ossining, N.Y. 10562-4612
914-944-9626 home
914-774-2646 cell

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