All of us here at Local 399 would like to wish you a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year!
In all honesty, 2020 was one of the most difficult years our Industry and our Members have ever had to endure. The Industry shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic was unlike anything I have seen in my entire career in this Industry. If this year has taught me anything however, it is that no matter our differences, we truly are made stronger by our Union solidarity and that our essential workers, and working families throughout our Country, always have been and will always be the backbone of this Nation.
With the majority of our Members out of work for almost 6-7 months, and sadly, some Members having not yet returned, it might seem hard to see outside of the difficult and disastrous moments of this year. Through all of the struggles and hardships however, there were many moments that made our Union stronger and reminded me of how grateful I am for the power, generosity and resilience of our 399 family.
Below are just some of the 2020 highlights throughout this difficult year:
• We organized 300 Catering Assistants! In 2020 they ratified their first Contract and joined our 399 Teamster family.
• We ensured Entertainment Industry professionals were included in the initial COVID-19 Stimulus Relief bills, providing much needed relief to our Members during the initial months of the COVID-19 shutdown.
• The MPIPHP Board of Directors, comprised of both Labor and Management, were able to work together to protect a majority of participants from losing health coverage while also protecting the health of our plans and retirement benefits throughout this crisis.
• Due to the generosity of our Membership, in conjunction with MPTF, we were able to create an Emergency Relief Fund to support our Members in extreme financial hardship. Through the fund we were able to support over 300 of our Members.
• We were able to feed over 1,400 families by way of a Food Distribution event to help our own Members and the community at-large, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Labor Community Services, the LA Regional Food Bank, Zio Studio Services, Chef Robert Catering, the Basic Crafts and our own Union Brothers and Sisters.
• We were able to utilize digital tools to host over 30 webinars and countless digital meetings via Zoom in order to stay connected, even without being able to meet in person, keeping the membership as engaged and informed as possible. With the guidance from our International, we were also able to hold official digital General Membership Meetings – a practice that we plan to continue to implement even when we are able to gather in person again.
• The solidarity, power and creativity displayed by the Entertainment Unions and Guilds to ensure effective science based protocols were agreed upon by the AMPTP and the AICP allowing our Industry to reopen, returning many of our Members to work. Together with our Sister Unions and Guilds, we were able to secure routine testing, sick pay, requirements for additional COVID-19 safety personnel and in some cases, additional staffing to support production with the COVID-19 safety requirements. These protocols have proved effective by the data collected by the studios-showing extremely low transmission rates throughout production over the course of the past several months.
• We had over 1,000 Local 399 Members recommit to our Teamster Oath celebrating our diversity and our commitment to a strong Union family that protects one another regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, physical disability or national origin.
• We developed our first ever Diversity and Inclusion task force comprised of 399 Members looking to be the change in our Union, and to build upon and strengthen our diversity by finding ways to educate, inspire and raise awareness of how we can best serve and support all of our Members.
• We used this year to improve our software solutions at the Union Hall to help better preserve and archive historical data, increase reporting capabilities, create pathways for more targeted Member communication and are working towards rebuilding our Call Board which we will share more about in the New Year.
• We saw hundreds of our Members find creative ways to give back to the community throughout the year by volunteering their time, equipment, energy and talents.
• We welcomed new Members from Jeeves Transportation into our Union family who finalized and ratified their first ever Union contract.
• We continued to negotiate strong contracts securing fair wages and safe working conditions for our Members and filed numerous grievances to further protect our Members during this initial shutdown and at the onset of productions returning to make certain safety protocols were being implemented correctly.
• We grew stronger as a Union because we fought through this together.
As this pandemic rages on, it is our Union Solidarity and commitment to our 399 Brothers and Sisters that will carry us through. As your Administration, we will continue to do all within our power to make sure your Union works for YOU. We will be sharing a survey in early January to get your feedback, ideas, and suggestions as we move into the New Year. This is your Union and we want your feedback and insight to continue to build our Union stronger together.
Thank you again for your support, strength and resilience throughout 2020. If we can get through this year, I believe we can truly weather any storm that comes our way. Stay tuned for more updates regarding the restart of production in the New Year. If there is anything we can do at this time to further support you and your family, please let us know.
Happy New Years 399 Family!
Teamsters Local 399