Daily Hire Corner

Daily Hire Corner

By: Larry Barr, Daily Hire, NBC-TV

Stay informed. Make your voice heard. We may well be in for the fight of our financial and professional lives.

My Fellow Daily Hires:

Well, we can’t say you weren’t warned. The Trump Administration has taken control of the national agenda, and organized labor (especially the DH community) is in BIG TROUBLE. While Mr. Trump campaigned as the savior of working people, his appointees are all millionaire (if not billionaire) business people with records showing they have no use for organized labor/consumer rights and oppose most of the programs and benefits we have won and are working to improve. This information comes from their own statements and previous actions and is not a Kellyanne Conway “alternative fact.”

            Here’s what we face:

            1. A couple of days before we went to press, Republicans in the House of Representatives introduced a bill to establish a National Right-to-Work law. In short, if approved and signed by President Trump (highly likely), it would eliminate mandatory union membership – so-called closed shops – and the requirement that all who benefit from a contract pay union dues. That action would cripple many, if not all, union operations. So what?? Well, without dues, there is no money to pay for union services, from contract negotiating, grievance and arbitration to training programs. With no money and no union activity, we're back to minimum wage workers with no voice at all. And remember, your salaries and benefits and working conditions are NOT due to the largess of the companies we work for. Currently, 27 states have individual right-to-work laws that could be overturned by future legislatures and governors down the road. A national law, however, would be much harder to get rid of.

            2. Mr. Trump’s first nominee for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, has little use for labor unions, labor law, or much of anything benefiting working people. Puzder’s record is easy to find.

            3. This week, Mr. Trump promoted the Republican member of the National Labor Relations Board to Acting Chairman. He also has two other vacancies to fill. The new chairman has stated that the NLRB needs to back off on regulating business. And Mr. Trump’s next picks will likely embrace the same philosophy. The NLRB has been the one place we have been able to get some serious relief from unfair corporate treatment. The Trump NLRB will not be a friend to working people.

            So what do we do? First: stay informed. Keep up with presidential appointments, congressional action, AND labor and consumer matters in your own legislatures as well. You need to be up-to-date on what we, as working folks, face. Second: if you haven’t yet, use that iPad, phone, laptop, or even typewriter to make your voice heard by your representatives. It takes as little time as surfing the net. Most lawmakers have “comments” sections on their websites, so it’s easy to tell them what you think and what you want. Your voice DOES count, especially if the lawmaker gets several thousand messages with the same concern. Also, take a few minutes to send a message of support to lawmakers on our side of the issues. It lets them know they are on the correct path. Third: participate in small (or large) demonstrations supporting our goals. “Shirt” days at work are a good start. I don't mean to sound overly dramatic, but we may well be in for the fight of our financial and professional lives.

            The future of health care (and the “Affordable Care Act”) remains a mystery for now, but 2017 FlexPlan coverage and benefits are in place and will not be affected this year. 2018 benefits and costs will be worked out later this year. Sean Dugan, our FlexPlan administrator reminds us all that if you have any questions, call member services at (888)FLEX-401K (Mon- Fri./10:30AM-8:00PM, ET). For DH members with Company coverage (Comcast, ABC), contact your plan administrators with questions. If you cannot get an answer, please let your Local NABET office know.

            One of our companies’ favorite words at the bargaining table is “flexibility.” It can be maddening as companies use it to try to cut jurisdiction, pay or penalties. But, it’s also a good word for us Daily Hires. In just the last few years, the technical changes we've seen have been mind-boggling. As our jobs move from copper to IP and beyond, it is imperative that we all continue to update our own skills. For Daily Hires, it is critical. The good news is there are lots of free or low-cost ways to update those skills and learn new ones. Check with your Local office about the lynda.com training programs. Another good resource is trade association meetings and conventions. Many of those (NAB, Cine-Gear, SMPTE etc,) offer free passes to their exhibit halls where you can see and learn about new technology and get connected with training. Two excellent websites are TheBroadcastBridge.com and StudentFilmmakers.com, which have very good information and links to other websites. There also are a number of free print or online trade publications such as TV TECHNOLOGY that can keep you up-to-date.

            Finally, as we go to print, our NABET/CWA sisters and brothers at ABC/Disney are locked in some very tense contract negotiations. We may be called upon to help our ABC NABET-CWA Daily Hires and Staff get the Mouse's attention through Shirt Days, informational picketing, or other forms of communication. If that happens, please, please offer a hand and some time in support. This is a new world and all of us need to work together. Group action can make an important difference. The cartoonist Walt Kelly (POGO) popularized a great line: “We has met the enemy and he is US!” Indifference is our biggest enemy right now, so take an interest in the business, take action when you can, and Keep the Faith.


Larry Barr

[email protected]