Entertainment Unions Begin Cooperative Meetings

Volume CI, No. 3March, 2001

Sparked by the experience of last year’s bitter SAG-AFTRA strike, a number of unions in New York City’s entertainment industry have begun meeting on a regular basis, seeking to develop a new level of unity in the face of increasingly powerful employers. Organized by the New York State AFL-CIO, the meetings have taken place at the offices of the Writers Guild of America (East).

So far there have been two such meetings. Local 802 has been represented at both by President Bill Moriarity and Assistant to the President Bill Dennison.

“We believe that such meetings are extremely important to all of us who work in this industry, and we intend to be fully involved,” Moriarity told Allegro. “As with the other unions, we find ourselves confronting employers with enormous resources. The only way to truly level the playing field is through increased union cooperation.”

This sentiment has been reinforced at each meeting by Denis Hughes, president of the New York State Labor Federation, who has been chairing the meetings. Hughes has stressed both the importance of the entertainment industry to New York State and the need for multi-union cooperation. He has also committed the state federation’s resources to facilitate this effort.

The six-month long SAG-AFTRA strike was forced by the multi-billion dollar advertising industry, in an effort to get rid of actors’ residual payments. A number of unions, including 802, came to the aid and support of the two unions – but it wasn’t until the full weight of the AFL-CIO was brought to bear on some major advertisers that a settlement was reached. This experience led SAG, AFTRA and other unions to conclude that more union cooperation is essential to protecting and improving the lives of those who work in the entertainment industry.

Besides Local 802, SAG, AFTRA and WGA East, the meetings have so far included representatives from Actors Equity Association, locals from the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA), the American Guild of Musical Artists, the American Guild of Variety Artists and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.