Friday, December 29, 2017

Unions, Guilds and Harrassment

Unions and Guilds (both above and below the line) have had to deal with the new realities regarding harassment in the workplace. No longer are the problems being swept under rugs. And each labor organization is dealing with it in their own way.

... Unions and guilds say they’ve taken concrete steps to finally address an epidemic that has been festering in Hollywood since the days of silent movies. ...

The AMPTP and IATSE established an online sexual harassment prevention training program as part of their 2015 collective bargaining agreement, and that program began rolling out in January. And in July, the delegates to IATSE’s quadrennial convention voted unanimously to approve a resolution to “condemn sexual or other physical abuse perpetrated in the workplace” and to “work together to inform members that such actions will not be tolerated and that anyone responsible for workplace abuse will be held accountable.” ...

The culture has changed radically since 2015. Prior to Harvey Weinstein, there was a reluctance by many employees in the entertainment industry to file complaints against predators because they feared it would negatively impact their careers. The landscape has changed:

... SAG-AFTRA was the first of the Hollywood unions to publicly condemn Weinstein – four days after the story went viral squared. While calling Weinstein’s conduct “abhorrent and unacceptable,” the guild said that it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and that such behavior “is more prevalent than our industry acknowledges.”

It followed up with a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, where SAG-AFTRA president Carteris observed that “This is not just a Hollywood situation – this is systemic throughout our culture. … And this is not just in our culture, it’s global.” She also suggested that the union and its high-profile members could play a major role in changing the culture of abuse. “By working together,” she said, “we can absolutely change our culture.” More than half of the 150 performers who attended the meeting raised their hands when attorney Gloria Allred asked if they’d been sexually harassed in the workplace.

Entertainment unions have been in similar territory before. In the '40s and '50s, guild and union members were harassed for being leftists or communists. The Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild of America did not acquit themselves particularly well in protecting membership then (and neither did the IATSE. Local 839, in fact, was conceived by Walt Disney and IATSE Representative Roy Brewer because of a mutual dislike for the left-wing Screen Cartoonists Guild ... which 839 displaced.)

Maybe this time around, things will be better.

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