Thursday, October 30, 2014

The ability to earn a living acting, or serving others, under attack!

Actors are finding their ability to earn a living being eroded by a growing movement who feel that talent should work for free, and that it is a privilege just to be able to show off your talents. The issue of musicians in community theatre has drawn strong response from community theatre actors and tech who resent musicians being paid. The concept of professionals needing to be compensated for their talents and work is under attack in our society. Now a deeper threat as over a dozen states and at the federal level legislation strengthening the mislabeled "right to work" provisions as "protecting workers", moves to de-certify or cripple public unions, or to drain any ability to provide health care or legislative protection for workers moves forward in the name of "a budget emergency."

The voters spoke and those they elected are now directly attacking the security and professionalism of unions, including SAG-AFTRA.

With Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, and shifts in many states to Republican governor's and legislatures, legislation is already being created to curb the "power"of unions, rights of workers, allow for cuts in union workers (replaced by lower paid workers without union protections) and speed national "right-to-work" legislation.

This does impact actors, as increasingly states will face what we do in Nevada, incentives used to increase non-union work and to encourage non-union workers to Taft-Hartley, allowing them union benefits and pay without joining a union.

An A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s internal memo warned labor leaders, “With the enormous losses in state legislatures around the country, we will face not only more attacks on working families and their unions — we will face more serious attacks, particularly in the formerly blue or purple states that are now controlled by a Republican trifecta.”

Union leaders particularly dread the spread of right-to-work laws, which prevail in 22 states, almost all in the South or West. Under such laws, unions and employers cannot require workers to join a union or pay any dues or fees to unions to represent them.
Unions complain that such laws allow workers in unionized workplaces to reap the benefits of collective bargaining without paying for it. Pointing to lower wages in right-to-work states, unions say the laws lead to worse wages and benefits by weakening unions.
But lawmakers who are pushing right-to-work laws argue that they help attract investment. “The folks who work day-to-day in economic development tell us that the No. 1 thing we can do to make Indiana more attractive to business is to make Indiana a right-to-work state,” said Jerry Torr, an Indiana state representative who backs such legislation.
Some union leaders say that proposals like right-to-work laws, which have little effect on state budgets, show that Republicans are using budget woes as a pretext to undercut unions.
Republican lawmakers plan to introduce legislation that would bar private sector unions from forcing workers they represent to pay dues or fees, reducing the flow of funds into union treasuries. In Ohio, the new Republican governor, following the precedent of many other states, wants to ban strikes by public school teachers.
Some new governors, most notably Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are even threatening to take away government workers’ right to form unions and bargain contracts.
“They’re throwing the kitchen sink at us,” said Randi Weingarten, president of theAmerican Federation of Teachers. “We’re seeing people use the budget crisis to make every attempt to roll back workers’ voices and any ability of workers to join collectively in any way whatsoever.”

A group composed of Republican state lawmakers and corporate executives, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is quietly spreading these proposals from state to state, sending e-mails about the latest efforts as well as suggested legislative language.

- Art Lynch

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