Manchester, NH, Jan. 9 – In a stinging rebuke to the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, stagehands who belong to IATSE Local 195 have complained that after giving lip service to working with union crews, the Presidential hopeful has turned his back on organized labor.
When Oprah Winfrey campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire in early December, it was decided to hold the event at a non-union venue. Local 195 contacted the campaign and requested they move to a union site. The campaign refused. When IATSE threatened an informational picket line at the event, Obama promised to make pro-union statements at the rally and to use union labor for future events. The picket was then cancelled. Obama did make a pro-union statement at that event, and the campaign promised that they would use union venues in the future.
Then on Dec. 10, 2007, the IA endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. While campaigning in Iowa, the Obama camp asked IA locals for one union employee per event, but used additional nonunion labor at each one. Stage technicians set up stages, hang backdrops and run technical equipment needed for many of the campaign rallies and speeches that are broadcast frequently.
Said one New Hampshire stagehand, “I don’t want a president who I have to negotiate with to get working family issues into his speeches, and I don’t want a president who does not keep his word. Despite his promise, since the Oprah event Obama has held numerous events with nonunion labor. If Obama can’t even use union labor for his campaign events, will he really fight for working families in the White House? I took him at his word once – but now that I know how he operates his campaign promises ring hollow.”