IATSE Local 479 is in good hands. Today I had the privilege to attend the Executive Board meeting here in Atlanta, as well as a portion of the General Meeting that followed. I have to say that in all honesty, I was impressed. Our leaders, President – Ray Brown, Vice President – Whit Norris, Secretary/Treasure – Frank Hatcher, Business Agent – Michael Akins, Director of Membership – Aaron Cooley, and Labor Delegate – Peter McGoran were present at today’s Executive Board Meeting in Atlanta. Chairman of the Education Committee – Kevin Amick, and AFL-CIO Representative – Bud Raymond were also present, along with numerous guests.
A bonus was that Local 479’s Legal Counsel – Bob Giolitto, was in attendance to back up and explain any and all issues regarding legal matters. There were several that related to my concerns, and therefore were explained in justifiable terms as to why they were necessary and encouraged. But better yet, the Vice President of the IATSE International, Michael F. Miller, flew in from Los Angeles to explain and discuss what is happening on the national front. It could not have been a better day for me to attend. And I was impressed.
Like many members I have had my concerns about particular issues, and the decisions that have been made regarding the membership’s best interests. I have found myself discussing these issues with co-workers, and complaining about these concerns more than usual. I felt it important that instead of just griping, I find out for myself firsthand what it is that is going on, and why are decisions being made that we perceive as unjustifiable and inconsiderate of the membership’s needs. I learned, on the contrary, that issues have been handled in delicate detail, and that always, the member’s interests were of critical importance…from the international level all the way down to Local 479.
I am a boom operator, and fortunately I work a lot. I have a child in North Carolina, and a girlfriend in Colorado that I visit whenever I am not working. Point being, I really don’t have the time to deal with all of these union matters, so I really don’t want to get involved in doing what it takes to make changes within the system. But in all fairness to those concerned, my complaining, and the co-workers I discuss issues with, I decided that the best approach for me should be to first attend an Executive Board Meeting, and a General Meeting. I believed that there, in the presence of our leadership, and within the structure that they govern our membership, I would witness the strengths and weaknesses of their system. I can honesty say I underestimated their leadership qualities and techniques for implementation, and I found no weaknesses. I was so impressed by their skills, talents, and diplomacy, that I couldn’t imagine myself comfortably sitting amongst them as they work through their responsibilities. The union is in good hands.
The thought of getting involved in the union and becoming a committee head, or officer, just did not appeal to me…it never has. But in fairness to them, my co-workers, and the union at large, I felt it important to find out for myself if I would have to muster up the chops to become a leader in this organization. What I have garnered from today’s events is that they do not need my help, fore they are doing an outstanding job. This is not to say that I won’t become a leader, as quite frankly, the impressiveness I experienced today is quite compelling, and I might just want to stand shoulder to shoulder with such greatness. Perhaps a little will rub off on me. But as it stands now, these people who are working the work within our union’s halls are men and women that everyone can be proud of. They will get the work done, and they will do it for the good of all concerned. Count on it!
What I found out today is that we are blessed with an amazing group of leaders that have nothing but our best interests at heart, in their minds, and on the agenda. Today, these attendees addressed issues of the utmost importance relating to the Operating Budget, Building Fund, Governor’s influence on tax credits, the new Georgia Film Academy, a new Political Action Committee, the upcoming state of the art website, our impressive education training programs, the Health and Welfare of our members, a new cost cutting Solar Power system, Charity events, Member’s concerns, the strength of our growing number of Delegates, a new Federal Credit Union available to everyone, and the participation of our Lobbyist, Demitrius Masacusa (Sp?), who was also in attendance. These are real issues that directly affect each and every one of our members to a degree that you can only comprehend by attending these events. I did, and I am grateful that my eyes have been opened. I am thankful that I can now face my brothers and inform them that they are in good hands. IATSE Local 479 is really well represented, and has some tremendous leaders that are doing everything in their power to make our union, and the filmmaking future of Georgia a very bright and exciting world of entertainment and illusion. Our union is making Georgia look really good in the world of Hollywood producers. You can count on that.
The new facility is impressive, and it cost a lot of money, but it is quickly apparent that it is born of the great leaders who work long hours after their normal day-to-day set jobs, to make Local 479 the preeminent union of which to be a member. I am so very impressed with what our leaders have done. They are a classy, smart, strong, dedicated, and caring group of human beings that believe in the strength in numbers, the importance of training workers to be excellent, and making a positive impact on the politicians that create public policy which affects union workers in the motion picture industry. Please, don’t do what I did and just complain. Attend meetings, do your research, ask questions, come up with better ways to do things, introduce them to the leaders, and strive to make a positive difference. We will all be better off with your positive impact.
Yours in the brotherhood,
Robert K. Maxfield