Young Workers Group Gives Voice to a New Generation of Post-Production Folks

The Best of Youth: A new group helps bring young workers into the union.
The Best of Youth: A new group helps bring young workers into the union.

By Jason Brotman

The strength of a union can be measured by the professional expertise, engagement, and solidarity of its membership. In order to ensure those elements exist, each new generation must be given the necessary tools and knowledge. However, this isn’t a simple process of dictating wisdom down from on high; it’s a give-and-take. New generations need to be heard, respected, and met where they are.

As co-chair, along with my esteemed fellow member of the MPEG Board of Directors, Shiran Amir, I am proud to present the Local 700 Young Workers Group.

Several other IATSE locals have Young Workers Groups, and these are sanctioned entities within the larger union. The IA officially specifies “young workers” as those 35 and younger (though anyone of all ages who is interested in contributing to this effort is welcome). Local 700 currently has 2,000 members that fit this description, representing roughly a quarter of our total membership. This sizable cohort of our post-production brothers and sisters represents the future of the Editors Guild.

The mission of the Young Workers Group is ambitious in scope: To educate, inspire, and empower the next generation of our membership, with the hope that a high level of engagement and ownership of our union will be sustained throughout the rest of their careers. To be clear, this also includes new Guild members of all ages who would benefit from focused educational and participatory opportunities.

We will work on creating seminars and mentorship programs specifically targeted at young and new members. Recently, the Membership Outreach Committee began a recurring educational event for newly minted picture editors called “Bumped Up.” The Young Workers Group will work on presenting a similar event for members of the lower classifications, providing advice on professional development and workplace power from seasoned members of those classifications.

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That said, there is the give-and-take. The other side of the Young Workers Group’s work is serving as a megaphone for young and new members of Local 700. Those at the start of their careers are often not confident in voicing their needs and concerns, or they simply don’t know what avenues are available to do so.

As Isabel Yanes, a core member of the Young Workers Group, writes:

“Joining the union was a big step in my career that opened a world of opportunities, but it was extremely daunting as a young 20-something becoming part of such a large group of workers who have years of experience under their belts. I’m still struggling to understand all the intricacies of how the Guild functions and all the benefits I receive by being a member. Pension, healthcare, contract negotiations? What rights do I have as a union member? Nobody teaches you this stuff in school, and it’s sometimes nerve-racking to ask questions, or even know which questions to ask. I’m so thankful that the Young Workers Group is focused on educating us, the young members who want and need to be involved in the processes that shape our contracts and our professional lives.”

As so eloquently put by Isabel, we must empower this next generation of post-production professionals. This will include surveys and focus groups in the lead-up to contract negotiations to help give specific concerns the attention they deserve. We have also launched a Facebook group called “IATSE Local 700 – Young Workers Group,” which serves as a place for those young and new members to share ideas and ask questions that they may not feel comfortable asking in a wider audience.

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Finally, the Young Workers Group will be in communication with the other IA Locals’ Young Workers Groups. Connecting with IA brothers and sisters who have shared experience and perspective will allow us to foster lasting relationships between our Locals.

There is much to do! If you’re interested in getting more involved with the Guild, especially if you’ve joined recently, this is a great starting point. Check out the Facebook page or, if you’re not on Facebook, please fill out our interest list form located at: https://forms.gle/JU66ZswHysGNp7Uq8

Jason Brotman, an Assistant Editor, is a member of the Editors Guild Board of Directors.

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