The Awesomeness of 'Black Panther': Union Made

Wow, the "Black Panther" movie was awesome, wasn't it? And while we could spend hours about how great an action movie it is or how beautiful it looks or the social implications of the themes and representation of African culture, let's take a few minutes to look behind the scenes at the work it took to bring a movie like "Black Panther" to life, work done by union members.

Let's start with the cast of superb performers such as Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya and many others. They are among the group of 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcaster journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voice-over artists and other media professionals who are members of SAG-AFTRA.

The screenplay, one of the better writing jobs ever done for a superhero movie, was written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, members of Writers Guild of America West, which represents thousands of writers who create content for television shows, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation and the web.

If you waited around to see the post-credits surprise that Marvel movies offer, just before the last scene starts, you might notice the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) logo. That's because a wide range of jobs on a movie set are filled by IATSE members, including art directors, costume designers, make-up artists, hairstylists, studio lighting technicians, set painters and script supervisors. In other words, all the people who made one of the most beautiful films in recent memory are IATSE members. That goes for the visual images on the screen as well, as the International Cinematographers Guild is an affiliate of IATSE. So are the more than 7,200 members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild and the members of the Animation Guild who create not only animated films, but the visual effects in movies like "Black Panther," too.

Other roles on movie sets also are filled with union members—from Electrical Workers (IBEW) to the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) to Laborers (LIUNA)—everywhere you look on set, you find working people who have joined together in union to negotiate a fair return for their work. Work that entertains and informs millions.

And there is actually more. From the drivers, couriers and animal handlers of the Teamsters union to the filmmakers represented in the Directors Guild of America, the working people on a big movie set like "Black Panther" know that their collective voice not only protects their rights and their livelihood, but gives them leverage in bringing such great entertainment to the rest of the world.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!