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Hello Robert,

I empathize with your experiences.  The reality of people and politics 
is that anything can be used for good or evil.  The original reason for 
unions, in my opinion, was to improve the working conditions of the 
general worker and develop a protection against abusive employers, a 
prime example was the organization of migrant field workers in 
California by Cesar Chavez.  There certainly was and is a need for some 
sort of protection for those workers.

Unfortunately, power corrupts, and over a period of time, the original 
reason for a union can be lost in a "them against us" kind of 
discrimination and hard headed regulation.

As a former union board member, I and other workers on the board were 
able to gradually make changes to help other nonunion craftspeople to be 
covered under our umbrella without discrimination.  Today, a nonunion 
motion picture editor can join the union if she/he has worked in the 
industry a given period of time even though it's nonunion work.  This 
also applies to assistant and apprentice editors, so it's the level of 
expertise that governs the job classification.  Granted that when I 
first worked  union in the '50s, there were some very unfair and 
exclusive practices.  Today, I think we've become a bit more 
enlightened, realizing that anyone doing our kind of work should have 
equal pay and treatment.  Hopefully, times have changed in the general 
labor movement, since strength lies in numbers, not exclusion.  What's 
good for one is good for many.

Having said that, I'm sure there are still abusive union practices 
throughout the world. All unions are not equal, and by their very 
nature, they are a group of people coming together in a common cause.  
As a result, what might initially be a democratic organization can 
become a dictatorship if members become too comfortable with the status 
quo.  As with our country, vigilance and voting on how things are done 
is a constant necessity.  We can't just let the "other guy/girl" do it.

To comment on your email:

Robert Hodge wrote:

>I've only had 3 incidents with unions-ALL  BAD !!
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>1- A former friend (??) who,was vehimently anti union until he got a highly paid union job as an elevator mechanic who then instantly switched his position that only a union worker could do the job( ANY job ) properly.
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Power and MONEY both corrupt!

> Anyone in academia was a person who obviously could not find a " Legitimate "  i.e"Real" position anywhere else and was consequently useless to society.
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>I don't exaggerate !!
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My education was more important to me than what I ended up doing for my 
life's work, IHO.  I feel that higher education gives one more 
understanding of the arts and sciences of our societies for whatever 
purpose.  Hopefully, in the broader spectrum of our society, I like to 
think that we can become better citizens and able to contribute in 
making things relatively equal "with truth and justice for all".  Of 
course, that can be considered as naive by many in the cold light of the 
"real world".

>2-A union member of  IATSE / MPMO was allowed to access a projection booth in which I was the primary projectionist for 15 years and managed to burn out a  motor controller which had been in weekly use for over 70 years because they didn't know how to use it and wouldn't ask how it worked.  The union didn't have to pay for it either- this "projectionist" was just kicked out of the booth permanently. 
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Stupidity isn't limited to any group, but too many dumb acts will get 
any worker fired, union or otherwise, today.

>The union promised a strike against the theatre which would have blocked all stage shows that required union stagehands from the theatre if a union projectionist wasn't immediately installed. Making me a member of the union wasn't an option as my seniority level would have given me no work anywhere, whle I would have the" priviledge" of paying dues is what started it off.
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That's the worst side of unionism, I'm afraid.  All unions aren't equal 
either, and many perhaps still operate in gangster ways (which was the 
way many of them became in the "old days"  Yes, gangsters DID take 
control of them).  I can only speak of my union experience as being a 
positive thing.  Most of the people working in Hollywood today aspire to 
getting "in the Union" if they haven't and feel it's a good thing for 
their futures.

>3- My father who was only trying to keep a roof over our heads while my mom was ill may years ago was called a SCAB by his fellow union workers. This was spray painted on the sidewalk in front of our house. 
>
>So my overall opinions about unions are very, very low.
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>
Understandable.  As I said before, all unions are not created equal in 
terms of goals and fairness.  They are only as good as their alert and 
voting memberships.

Rod Stephens

>Bob Hodge
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>>>>[log in to unmask] 4/15/2006 5:37 PM >>>
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>Bob Wasserman wrote:
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>>I was wondering how many of us are in Unions? I'm an IATSE member, but most of my studio work is not through them, most of it being non-profit agency work at below union scale, which is usually OK due the joy of preservation aspect of the work. I do get theatrical and event work through IATSE and then I'm very well taken care of. If I had a more fulltime staff position here, it would probably be through ACSFME. Is it our love for the work or the small size of the  business that keeps us from unions?
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>When I first went to work for Family Theater to edit four productions, 
>it was under the IATSE through a payroll service, but later when I 
>started to do archive work for them it was on their payroll which wasn't 
>covered by the union.   Then, it was continuous yearly employment 
>contrasted to the seasonal aspect of studio work, so at that point, it 
>was also a better deal to work non-union.  Also, I had "semi retired", 
>so my IA pension had kicked in.  In my case, I couldn't/can't complain.  
>But, if I were to work in "The Industry" again, I'd work union if 
>possible, since I'd be able to contribute to the funds for future 
>workers plus have the protection of union rules and make the going rate.
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>Rod Stephens
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>>>I was never in a union however the decline of recording engineers being in unions led to a >50% drop in our average wages. If you calculate inflation in, that figure becomes a drop >of 90%! I don't buy that the union engineers of the 1950s and '60s were overpaid and 
>>>the quality of their work certainly speaks for its self.
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