SAVE THE DATE
Nashville Local Membership Meeting
When: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wednesday, June 3
Catered lunch begins at 11 a.m.
Where: Nashville Local Office
1108 17th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37212
Plan to join us for an exciting meeting where we introduce our new executive director Richard Van Syckle, nominate members for the 2015-2017 board, and celebrate the recently redesigned SAG-AFTRA Studio. Mark your calendars now and come share some lunch and participate in important local business.
This meeting is only open to paid-up SAG-AFTRA members in good standing. Unfortunately, no guests allowed. Parents or guardians of younger performers under 18 years old are welcome. SAG-AFTRA members, please bring your membership card (paid through April 30, 2015 or Oct. 31, 2015) for admittance.
NASHVILLE LOCAL OFFICERS AND BOARD
Pat Alger, President
Mike Montgomery, Secretary
Jim Ed Brown
Carla Christina Contreras
Beth Ann Musiker
Standing Together – It’s a Union Tradition
By Local President Pat Alger
As more and more states become so-called “right-to-work” states, I think it benefits us to pause and think about what the union means to us and what that misleading term actually represents.
As a teenager in south Georgia in 1965, I felt very fortunate to get a job in a prominent local cotton mill the summer before college to make some badly needed tuition money. The mill was somewhat of a family tradition in my mother’s family and all of her brothers and sisters as well as her father and mother had worked in the mill at one time or another. I started on the night shift from 10 at night until 6 in the morning six nights a week — a mandatory 48-hour workweek with no overtime pay. I had Sunday off presumably so I could go to church, but I was always too exhausted to stay awake for the morning service.
For this job opportunity I was paid $1.49 an hour — a tidy sum for a teenage boy with no overhead. After a few weeks on the job, an older man who I was partnered with began to ask me questions about my employment. When I mentioned what I was making his jaw dropped — after 25 years on the job he was making exactly what I was, with one week’s vacation at Christmas. I suppose you have guessed by now that this was not a unionized mill.
Had a union been in place in this mill, after 25 years he would have been earning a salary that reflected his loyalty and longevity on the job, and he would have accumulated benefits that eventually would have eased his burden in retirement. Certainly he would have paid union dues over the years, but all of that would have been returned in benefits for him and/or his spouse and family.
The point here is this: He neither had the union advantage or the so-called “right to work” circumstances that would have allowed him to reap the salary and working conditions benefits of the union.
The “right to work,” however, doesn’t provide anyone with a job or the right to have one — it just allows non-union employees access to the hard-earned union advantages at no personal cost without standing together in solidarity with those who fought for those benefits.
As singers and actors, we are constantly being asked to work off the card or below scale, and I want to take a moment and express my appreciation for all of our local members who have been standing together and insisting on union pay and union contracts with H&R contributions. This takes courage sometimes, but for those of us in this business for the long haul, we know what it means to have those benefits and the sense of community you feel when standing together with your friends and colleagues for the good of everyone. As Hank Williams Jr. said, “It’s a family tradition.”