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Open Letter to the Members of IATSE Local 354


Once again, we find ourselves, as a union, facing a major challenge. For the third time in the last year, our Business Representative has resigned. As we’ve faced some serious setbacks and even major losses, the temptation is there to give up. To say, “Why bother?” It’s so much work, why put in the effort? I’ve answered the question for myself: Because the Union has given me a home. Because the Union has given me the opportunity to work in ways I never could without it being there. Because I’ve been able to make a good living at something I really enjoy. Because I’m able to work in a safe, professional environment. Because my time is mine to decide when & where I work. Because I don’t worry that a vindictive boss can take away my job. All of this was made possible by the efforts of members that came before us who put in their time and effort to make the Union the strong, professional, business that it is. They are owed a deep gratitude from each one of us. And now it’s simply time to say; it’s your turn. It’s time to turn your attention to the business of the Union and find ways to help it grow. It’s your turn to return the effort that has gotten you the rewards and the stellar reputation you’ve enjoyed. It’s time to pay back your loan. Because it really is a loan. Our contracts don’t last forever. They must be renewed. The places we work aren’t required to hire us forever. They agree that having the Union there is a benefit for them. And they say so by agreeing to a contract that protects our wages and working environment. Past members have worked hard to give us those contracts. We each must be willing to continue those efforts. Once more I say in as clear a message as I can: the Union is what we make of it. We want good working conditions, so we have to push for them. We want good wages, so we must stand up for them. If we want respect, we must continually earn it. Having a Union to represent us and establish working agreements that protect and provide for our safety and dignity at work is not something that happens automatically. And once given, those provisions are only loaned to us until someone finds a way to take them back. Don’t let that happen. Step up and say that you are willing to work to keep the benefits we all enjoy. Perhaps I have failed in my responsibility of motivating the membership in spending the effort needed to keep the Union strong. I’m perhaps the wrong person for this job. But for now, it’s mine, and I won’t give in to the temptation to give up. I’m committed to the effort. I’m willing to spend all the time I can to keep us moving forward. So, answer the questions for yourself. Why bother? What’s the point of having a Union? What does it mean to you to be able to work safely? What does it mean to you to receive the wages that you do? What would your life be like without the Union and the efforts of those that have worked for years to keep it strong? The crossroads at which we stand are not clearly marked. Know that some directions are dead ends. But I’m certain that there is a course we can travel together that leads to a better future. The time to sit back and ride the shoulders of those few working on our behalf is over. Over the next few weeks, each of you will be getting a phone call from one of your elected officers. They will ask a very simple question: “What aspect of maintaining & growing the Union are you going to participate in?” Your fellow members are not asking for more than a few hours of your time. But they need it and deserve it. We all need to give some time and effort if we want to have a vibrant Union that supports us in the future. Coming next is the actual list of areas that your help would greatly benefit. Choose an area you have an interest in. Or choose an area of your own interest. Make the commitment to move forward on the issues facing us. Your efforts will be rewarded, just as the efforts of our predecessors have given us the rewards we all now enjoy. Consider how you can help. When the call comes, be ready to answer with a true commitment. In solidarity, I hope you will join in keeping IATSE, Local 354 the leader in stage labor in all of Oklahoma. Paul Clear President, Local 354, IATSE Tulsa, OK 539-900-5231

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