SAG-AFTRA Podcast with AFL-CIO President Looks to the Future of the Labor Movement – ​​Deadline

SAG-AFTRA Podcast with AFL-CIO President Looks to the Future of the Labor Movement – ​​Deadline

SAG-AFTRA is celebrating the upcoming Labor Day weekend with a podcast featuring Liz Shuler, president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO, which represents 57 affiliated unions, including SAG-AFTRA, and workers in all postal codes in the country.

According to Shuler, the future of organized labor is bright.

“We are stronger together,” Shuler said on the podcast. “As a union affiliated with the AFL-CIO, it brings the full breadth, reach and power of 12.5 million workers to each other’s struggles. And SAG-AFTRA is at the forefront of both. A lot of people think, ‘Oh well, SAG-AFTRA, are they really hardworking?’ Well, of course, because you work in an industry like Hollywood, or you’re someone in broadcast, you absolutely have the same issues that people who work in other professions have: safety and health concerns, discrimination and harassment concerns, and make sure you are paid fairly for your work.

“So what that means is that we can bring together the voices and solidarity of more people to support each other in those struggles. And I think of the work that you (SAG-AFTRA) did during the pandemic, for example, being on the front lines of creating security standards that the rest of us could learn from. That’s just a small example of what we do to help each other. And it’s a great example of how we show ourselves to each other.”

You can listen to the podcast, co-hosted by SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and SAG-AFTRA Executive Vice President Ben Whitehair, here.

“And I think in every industry, where there are workers and management,” Crabtree-Ireland said, “there is always a need to balance the power of management. And I don’t think anyone has found a better or more effective way to do that than workers acting collectively. And our members are hard workers, for sure. Anyone who’s been on a movie or television set, or in a newsroom or recording studio, definitely knows that.”

Emphasizing the interconnectedness of unionized workers, Shuler pointed to labor movement representatives who joined the picket lines during SAG-AFTRA’s 10-month strike against the Bartle Bogle Hegarty advertising agency in 2018-2019, and to members of SAG-AFTRA that came forward last year to support striking ice cream parlor workers in New Mexico who were asking for a $1-an-hour pay raise. That, she said, “is a great example of how we are more powerful together.”

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Reflecting on the historic advances unions have made for union and non-union workers alike, such as the five-day workweek, paid vacations and child labor laws, Whitehair noted that the AFL-CIO and SAG-AFTRA are uniquely positioned to address the challenges workers face in the future. One way they do that, he noted, is through their annual Workplace Innovation and Technology Summit, which is a joint partnership between SAG-AFTRA and the AFL-CIO, which he said “continues to look to the future.”

“I know that he has been quite active within SAG-AFTRA on these issues,” Shuler said. “And I know that you have a committee within your union that is really taking this, feet first, as they say, and participating because technology has impacted your industry probably more than any other industry. If you think about evolution and where we go from here, it’s been a great opportunity for us in the labor movement to partner with SAG-AFTRA at this Workplace Innovation and Technology Summit because we can access the best ideas, the cutting-edge strategies, on how to approach technology to make it work for workers. What are the security measures that we must establish in our contracts and be able to share that with the rest of the labor movement?

“So that’s what this is about as a collaboration. It is a partnership to build the future because we know our economy needs highly-skilled unionized workers as technology is disrupting our workplaces and the ground continues to change under our feet. But we have been there before. The labor movement has constantly evolved and changed as technology has changed over the last hundred years, frankly. So the trick here is that as new jobs come up, we want to make sure that the labor movement is the center of gravity to help workers navigate that change, help them upskill and find that path to the next opportunity and make sure that those jobs that are coming up are well-paying union jobs. Therefore, we look forward to working with you at the next summit. And I know we also partner around the Consumer Electronics Show, which gives us a glimpse of what the next innovations are going to be and how we can make them work for workers.”

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“It’s been a lot of fun doing that with the AFL-CIO,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “And speaking on behalf of SAG-AFTRA, we’ve certainly learned a lot and seen things coming down the road by virtue of that kind of investment to look forward to. And so it’s been a really tremendous partnership, and I’ve seen that some of the other unions that have been around when we’ve done those programs have really benefited from that experience as well.”

Shuler also noted that the AFL-CIO has an Institute of Technology to develop knowledge about the future of work and how best to bring the labor movement together to deal with emerging technologies. “So we’re trying to harness the power of work to really shape technology and innovation for workers,” he told SAG-AFTRA leaders. “I don’t need to tell you how the pandemic has actually accelerated the use of technology at work. And we’re seeing all kinds of reports about how workers are being policed. And I even learned about this new technology called ‘mouse jiggler’, which for people who work at home and their employers monitor them every 10 minutes based on their keystrokes and how they use their computers.

“So we need to lead the charge on how to have a voice at the table; how to include a worker perspective when we’re building these new regimes of how we’re going to work in new and different ways. And so we think that organized labor has to be at the center of these transformations to make sure that we have a role in shaping that future, because we really are the only force in the country, if you think about it, that has enough power. to make sure that workers can shape that future and shape it together for our union members, but also for the rest of America’s workers.”

Pointing to a new Gallup poll that found 71% of the American public support unions, Shuler noted that figure is the highest since 1965 and up from 68% last year. “So the trend is going nowhere but up because workers are waking up to their power,” he said. “And they say, ‘We’re through this pandemic. We got our country through it. We were often on the front lines as essential workers. We were called essential one day and treated as expendable the next. Companies are now making billions of dollars as a result of this pandemic. can be better As if we had to stop and check ourselves. As if we weren’t going to sit back and take it anymore. We have the power to stand up and demand better.’

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“And that’s where all this organization that we’re seeing across the country is coming in. Workers are finding their voice. They are standing. They are taking risks. They go on strike. They are leading strikes and pickets. And you know, also ‘quiet quiting’, as we have read in the newspapers. So, I think it’s a moment in time. It is a turning point for the labor movement. How do we harness the energy and momentum and all these positive feelings that people have about unions into real union growth?”

“The stars seem to be aligned,” he said. “And if we don’t seize this moment, then I don’t know when we will. We have a pro-union administration in the White House, the most pro-union president of our lives. We have the public with us: 71% approve of unions. And we have hard-working people who are rising up and ready to take risks.

“And that is what gives me great hope, great joy, to lead in this moment and to be there with you and your members to show that the labor movement is more relevant, vibrant, bold, modern and inclusive than ever. And our doors are wide open. We truly are the only institution left that can bring people together to make the change that workers need in this economy. Because as you know, it’s not working for all working people. If we’re going to close that inequality gap, if we’re going to fight for equal pay for women, and fight discrimination and harassment, and fight for civil and human rights, then we have to do it with a strong and powerful movement of working people. people.

“And that is what we believe the AFL-CIO and our unions will be for the future and the next generation, and as the future of work evolves. So this is a very exciting time to be in the labor movement.”

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