Working for a Better Life.

When we negotiate together, and speak up for one another, we can make a good living and have a good life.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a federal law that provides every American worker the right to organize, form, and join a union. The Right to Work status of a state does not limit the rights granted to working people by the NLRA. Texas is home to many strong unions, representing thousands of workers and advocating for fair treatment and safe workplace practices.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees | The Union Behind Entertainment

What is a Union?

A union is workers joining together to pursue policies and goals beneficial to one and all. Nothing more, nothing less. In other words, a union is you and your fellow workers, acting in concert to better your everyday working conditions. A union is what gives the individual worker a voice in decisions and events that directly affect them in an undertaking that constitutes a significant portion of life, that is, work.

A union allows workers a say in changing workplace conditions and solving workplace problems. With a union contract and grievance procedure to back them up, workers don’t have to suffer in silence or feel that their only option to unacceptable conditions is to quit their jobs. As a worker, you have a right under federal law to form a union, select representatives of your choice and negotiate collectively with your employer. This helps balance the power that employers have over individual employees.

Belonging to a union gives you rights under law that you do not have as an individual. Once you have formed a union, your employer must negotiate with you over your wages, hours and working conditions.

Who Runs the Union?

Electing union leadership is done in a democratic process. The officers are nominated and elected from the union’s membership. In most local unions, elections for officers are held every three years.

Every local union officer is a member of the union. Every officer has worked under a negotiated contract like every other member. All local union elected officials are selected to run the day to day business of the union because of their skills, commitment and ability to serve the membership.

Why Join a Union?

A union is YOU. It’s negotiating together and speaking up together for a better life, for economic stability, to provide for your family, and to create better workplaces. Here are some of the reasons we want to join a union:

  • Proper employment status
  • Access to Health Benefits
  • Getting fairly compensated for what we do

For more information on our mission click here.

Union Myths

Time to distinguish fact from fiction. Any time there is the talk of joining a union, a lot of rumors and myths break out — we’d like to provide you with the real story.

MYTH: The union just wants your dues money.

While you may hear this from your employer it’s up to you to take a look and decide for yourself. Every serious organization — churches, clubs, sporting leagues, and related associations — require funding, and unions are no different.  Union dues pay for the costs of having an organization managing contract negotiations, grievances and arbitration, training for members, legal fees so that you, the production technician, will never have to go it alone.

MYTH: The union will make you go on strike.

The majority of labor contracts are negotiated without a strike. Strikes are a rare last resort in contract negotiations — no union wants a strike.  A strike only happens when a majority of workers vote to have one.

MYTH: Unions make demands that just aren’t reasonable.

It’s important to remember that a union is you and your co-workers. You have a say in setting the demands you want. A negotiation process is aimed at creating a fair working agreement. Technicians who work for a living ought to be able to make a living.

MYTH: If you form a union, you risk losing the benefits and pay raises you already have.

It is illegal for an employer to freeze or cut previously scheduled raises to discourage you from forming a union.  Once you’re organized, you’ll lock in current wages and benefits and then negotiate from there.  All of you will get an opportunity to review your proposed contract before you vote to approve it.  Obviously, you’re not likely to approve a contract that cuts your wages or benefits.

MYTH: A union is a third party that will come between us.

A union is you and your colleagues. When you get down to the heart of things, unions are democratic, member-run, member funded organization working to help all workers. When you form a union, you work together to govern your own organization and every negotiated contract is reviewed and approved by a majority of the employees where you work.

MYTH: With a union, you won’t be allowed to talk to your supervisor – you’ll have to go through the union.

Most workers have found that having a union strengthens communication between employees and supervisors.  Direct relationships with immediate supervisors continue and you can negotiate to retain good policies and procedures already in place.  The advantage of joining together in a union is that you’re able to make your voices heard at the upper levels of management, where key decisions are made.

MYTH: Joining IATSE will limit where you can work.

No. The union does not dictate where you can and cannot work. IATSE members are free to work both union or non-union jobs. However, the benefit of working union jobs is that you have representation and a voice when it comes to your wages and working conditions.

MYTH: Joining IATSE will prohibit me for joining other unions and organizations.

No. IATSE members may join as many unions and organizations as they wish.

MYTH: Unions should be a thing of the past — they’re not needed anymore.

That line goes back as far as 1886, when the Toronto Globe used it in an editorial. Since then, unions have fought for and gained: pension plans, medical plans, disability protection, minimum wages… health and safety programs, education programs, pay equity, the 40-hour work week… and so much more.  Without unions, the balance of power shifts dramatically to the desires and decisions of the employer, leaving the workers with little say and no control over their working environment. This is what America is experiencing now after decades of declining union membership. It’s time to restore the balance!

Why Join the IATSE?

The IATSE has been representing those who work behind the scenes in entertainment for 125 years and has approximately 150,000 members across Canada and the U.S. working together in all aspects of live and recorded productions. IATSE Local 205, the local chapter in Austin, are committed to helping us succeed in achieving our goals. Learn more about our goals here.

Learn more about IATSE here and Austin’s Local 205 Chapter here.