Transition. I love this word. It has no negative or positive attachment. It does not point to a fixed moment in time, nor does it measure what you’ve moved beyond or what you have ahead of you. It describes a progression, the upheaval of one expectation evolving into a new concept. It’s uncomfortable, yet reassuring.
When Alysse Rossner (Communications co-chair) and I talked about dividing this Newsletter into two parts; the first part coming out in late December of 2021 and the second projected for early 2022, the thought of ending one chapter and starting a new one resonated within me. I cannot properly describe how eager I have been to wave my middle fingers (yes, both of them) in the air and give a rip-roaring “FUCK YOU” to 2021. But there is no end to this chapter. The losses we’ve accumulated over the past year or more, the fears that we’ve all faced, those moments have changed us.
I started to write an article months ago. I wanted to share some of the amazing things that have been happening behind the scenes of the local. I wanted to shine a light on some of the key players and acknowledge the forward movement that has happened during these unprecedented times. But so much has happened so quickly that it was impossible to keep up with the evolution taking place. In acknowledgment of the bullet train we are all on, the only thing to talk about in this moment is the transition of our local, the naked, neon-flashing, dancing elephant in the room. Things have changed. Things are changing. Things will continue to change.
The recent departure of Jennifer Meyers, our Assistant Business Agent (ABA) and the coming departure of Colleen Donahue, our trusted Business Agent (BA) of the last many years will prove to be a challenging turning point for our local. The wealth of experience and knowledge that each have contributed are deeply felt and will be difficult to replicate. But that’s the thing about transition. What is coming will always be influenced by what has been and their impact will propel us forward on our path as we welcome our new BA, the impressively proficient and fiercely dedicated, Laura Fearon.
During the pandemic, I finally had time to lean into my roles as a committee chair and E-Board member. I began to not only understand the wonderous machine that is our local but also to appreciate the enormous amount of energy and care it requires to maintain. We have excellent mentors, officers, and leaders, that’s true. I sincerely marvel at the wisdom and insight displayed by our senior representatives. But 161 is made up of its members. We are a collection of experiences and expectations with goals and necessities. It’s our cumulative efforts as members that will drive us to attain those goals.
With 161 President Dawn Mountain’s creation of the committees and her appointing of committee chairs, the involvement of our members and membership has grown and many of the seemingly impossible tasks ahead can now be focused on and attended to. You can be involved directly and affect the outcome. Let me change the wording of that sentence. You need to be involved directly in order to affect the outcome. With the inception of the different committees, we are communicating more efficiently, offering resources and guidance to each member of each craft, educating, inspiring and focusing our collective energy on contract negotiations while fighting for pay parity and proper work conditions. With the recent Area Standards Agreement (ASA) contract negotiations coupled with the Hollywood Basic, we not only voted in favor of a strike authorization, but our local took the strongest stance possible in advising members regardless of which craft or contract they work under to stand in solidarity with all potential striking IATSE members. We’re strong. We’re proving that every day. With our Majors negotiations fast approaching this Spring, I expect we’ll show up with the same passion and veracity that we’ve displayed throughout this past year.
Things are changing. We’ve grown in size and strength. The industry is thriving. We’re transitioning, transforming, strong. We are an assemblage of what was and what will be.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And stay vigilant. The New Year is here.
Gina Roché, Communications Committee Co-Chair