I'm Sticking to the Union
Two upcoming gigs! One is at Viper Room in Los Angeles NEXT MONDAY, September 9, at 9:30 pm.
Also BIGGER ANNOUNCEMENT! I will be performing MY SHOW, the solo show I wrote about in my last newsletter with the seance and the weirdness, on OCTOBER 16 at HOTEL CAFE, main stage. Mark your calendars if you live in LA. I would love to see you there. I am SO FREAKING EXCITED.
Now on to the thoughts...
It’s Labor Day.
Happy Labor Day.
Labor Day is a bit funny, isn’t it? I don’t know that I’ve given it too much thought in previous years beyond the excuse for a barbecue and a couple IPAs. This year, though, there were quite a few postings in my newsfeed about the connection with the American Labor Movement and I started to think a bit more.
I’ve been a member of a union for 22 years.
See picture above.
I joined SAG at 11 years old and, while I’ve not always agreed with their actions as a union, I believe that they’ve done me a lot more good than not. In general, I believe they’ve done a lot for performers—increased & fair wages, health coverage, and drastically improved safety conditions (if you don’t believe me, ask any nonunion actor some of their worst on-set experiences). I am grateful to be a member of SAG-AFTRA.
I’m grateful for unions, in general.
There seems to have been a debate brewing over unions and their necessity in our society in recent years.
I firmly believe in the power and the benefit of unions.
Look, I have some pretty strong political beliefs which I generally try to refrain from mentioning on my social media or in my newsletter. I have little desire to ostracize anyone. I come from an immediate family that has different political beliefs from mine. We have different news sources. Different champions of our political realms. We have different beliefs on abortion and climate change and minimum wage. However, I think this gives me a unique insight. I believe that the part of the solution in remedying our divisiveness lies in seeing the bigger issues without the political attachment. I can tell you that, at the core of it, most of us have similar fears and wants and hopes. It’s the manifestation of those feelings that gets us in trouble.
I have a loved one that, when she feels small and unseen, becomes sharp and argumentative. I sometimes feel small and unseen. But, when I feel it, I smile. And then I smile bigger and my voice goes 3 octaves higher like that will somehow make me more pleasing. In reality, we both drift farther and farther away from ourselves. I’m happy to say that we’ve both gotten better at it. But this is an example of how the same feeling can appear different. The same applies, I believe, to our politics.
Back to unions. In light of this, I’m going to do my best to address this issue from a birds-eye-view. Even if you don’t agree with the proposed resolution, I believe you can agree with underlying issue.
I believe that one of the bigger umbrella issues that we are currently facing in our society is this:
WE FEEL UNHEARD.
Each one of you, reading this post, has at some point felt unheard. And why wouldn’t we? The world is big. It is difficult to have a single voice be heard in it.
I believe one way to give people who feel unheard a voice is through unions. You could say that each person has the duty to stand up for what they want in their jobs, Darwinian capitalism and all. But, I feel, as Americans, we should feel a moral duty to take care of our country, and that means taking caring of the people within it. To be frank, most individuals don’t have that level of influence in their jobs to change a standard by themselves and, if you’re someone like me, it’s easy to smile away the small issues…and then they grow and grow and we become smaller and smaller.
Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but I believe that most business owners do not run their corporation with the aim of gratifying their insatiable greed. Most business owners are idealists. People with a vision. A passion to bring something to life. To bring something they believe is good to the world. I can’t fault that in the least. I come from two small business owners who I know care about their business and their employees. Very much so. I respect the hell out of them. They are good people.
However, when a business grows and stretches and becomes a titan, a machine, an industry in it’s own right, it is natural that it becomes difficult to see and to hear all the people, the individuals within it. The unions make sure that those people are taken care of. Are heard. Are seen. Unions aren’t perfect, and no solution would be, but they give voice in a world that is large. They are the mechanics to a larger machine.
When Woody Guthrie sang about the unions there were 2 billion people in the world. Now, on the doorstep of 8 billion people, we need now, as ever, the intermediaries who will stand up for us when we are too small to be seen by our industries. We need that, not because our industries have ill intent on us as workers, but because the world is too large for us to be heard or seen otherwise.
I believe that being an American, the true spirit of democracy, lies in us as its citizens having a right to a voice. Each one of us. And I believe the unions are part of that solution.
Cheers to you, the workers, my fellow Americans, on Labor Day.