Los Angeles – International President Matthew Loeb was among several prominent speakers addressing a crowd estimated at over 2000 on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday. Reps from many IA Locals, were among pro-union demonstrators who were energized by the size of the crowd and their unwavering desire to support workers in Wisconsin and other states where anti-union governors are doing their best to roll back hard-won gains made in the labor movement over the last 100 years.
Loeb told the crowd this was about more than bargaining and wages and benefits. “The assault is meant to destroy the counterbalance we create against corporate greed and a political system controlled by our foes,” he stated. Also in attendance at the rally were IA Vice President Mike Miller and IA Rep Peter Marley and numerous reps and members from IA Locals. The Los Angeles rally was part of a national effort which resulted in pro-union gatherings this past weekend in all 50 states, to show solidarity with the working families of Wisconsin. In other parts of the country union supporters’ voices are being heard.
On Sunday, Feb. 27, the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Labor Council held a rally at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, site of the National Governors Association Winter meeting. IATSE Vice President Walter Cahill attended, joined by a significant number of IA members, including many from Locals 19, 22, 44, and USA829, and marched in protest of the assault on workers’ rights by some of the Governors. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a strong supporter of workers’ rights to collective bargaining, made an appearance and was warmly received by the crowd. He spoke to them regarding the importance of protecting workers’ rights, and that unions built the middle class of this country.
Last week in Philadelphia IATSE Local 8 participated in two rallies, donating sound and staging equipment for a gathering of over 3000 union supporters. The Local 8 banner was mounted directly behind the stage and was prominently displayed on a number of television broadcasts. At another rally in Trenton, New Jersey, IA signatory Bauder Sound provided equipment for the group, which included IA Vice President Michael Barnes. International Trustee and Secretary-Treasurer of Chicago Local 2 Tom Cleary attended a rally in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday with several IA members from Wisconsin Locals 18, 251 and 470, as well as members of other IA Locals who had traveled from both the East and West Coasts to demonstrate their solidarity.
And, at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, broadcast on Sunday night, Best Cinematography (for “Inception”) winner Wally Pfister (member of Local 600) made a point to thank his “fantastic union crew.” In the press room after his acceptance speech, Pfister added, “I think what’s going on in Wisconsin is kind of madness right now. I’ve been a union member for 30 years and what the union has given to me is security for my family; they’ve given me healthcare in a country that otherwise does not provide healthcare. And I think the unions are a very important part of the middle class of America. So I stand strong behind any of the union members in this country and any other country because all we’re trying to do is get a decent wage and have medical care.” Oscar-winners Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo (both members of Local 700) and Ed Novick (member of Locals 52 and 695) won the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing for “Inception.” When presented the award, Rizzo said, “We need to thank everybody at Warner Bros Post-Production and we need to thank all the hard working boom operators and utility sound people that worked on the production crew. Union, of course.”