New NEB Members Give Back to Your Union

New NEB Members Speak Out

January 27, 2021
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Local 600’s National Executive Board meets via Zoom on January 30 and 31 to discuss our current challenges and opportunities, benefits, bargaining, budgets, and the state of your union. 600LIVE! spoke to first-term NEB members Sarah May Guenther, Sharif “Sunny” Shields and Jamie Metzger about their experiences joining the board and their hopes for the guild moving forward.

Photo by Local 600 Still Photographer Alison Rosa.

Sarah May Guenther
2nd Assistant
Eastern Region

600LIVE! : What prompted you to run for the NEB?
Sarah May Guenther (SMG): I was nominated silently by a fellow member and informed once the paperwork came in. At first, I was reluctant to follow through because I feared that I wouldn’t be able to participate enough to make a difference, but in discussing with fellow NEB members, it became apparent that the best way to be an NEB member is to be an active participant all around, using set perspective and current issues to provide context and be part of the conversation.

600LIVE!: What does it mean to you to have a voice on your union’s leadership?
SMG: I see my service to the union as a way to give back to my community and actively be the change I want to further improve our union. If there aren’t any young female voices present, then you don’t have that voice as a perspective in further discussion. It is great to have a lot of voices weighing in from the seemingly endless types of camera people we represent.

600LIVE!: All NEB members are given a list of roughly 50 members to reach out to and stay in touch with. What has been your experience engaging with these members?
SMG: I have had a great time communicating and meeting members who I stay in touch with. I cover a lot of members from states in which I have never worked and despite our border differences, it is thrilling to see the common bonds we have as 600 members.

600LIVE!: How have you found the challenges of meeting virtually vs. in-person meetings?
SMG: As a young member to the NEB, I have found it has been very difficult to meet virtually. A huge part of the NEB is meeting and having better perspective and communication with members that live in other parts of the country. Coming in the heat of our presidential changes and the pandemic, I have had to pick the brains of my fellow ER members instead of learning and getting to collaborate with our Central Region and Western Region members. I am ready for us to congregate again and not be sidelined on my sofa for 20 hours!

Photo courtesy of Jim Kiertzner.

Sharif “Sunny” Shields
News Photographer
Central Region

600LIVE!: What prompted you to run for the NEB? 
Sunny Shields (SS): I was approached by former president Steven Poster to run for this board seat during a visit to an NEB meeting in June 2016. Former Business Rep Justin Conway also felt I would be the right person to sit in this newly-created board seat.

600LIVE!: What does it mean to you to have a voice on your union’s leadership?
SS: For years, the union members from the TV stations have felt overlooked and left out. They needed a “voice” on the NEB and I was highly interested in looking out for my fellow members to keep the board updated and to voice our concerns and needs. Although I’m still observing and learning how things go around here, I have been known for being a strong voice for the voiceless! This is a newly created board seat and I’m trying to let everyone know that I’m here, that they can contact me and I will relate their needs to the board.

600LIVE!: All NEB members are given a list of roughly 50 members to reach out to and stay in touch with. What has been your experience engaging with these members?
SS: When I made these calls, most of the people had never heard of me, but they congratulated me on winning the board seat, because many of them did not know Local 600 had members who worked at TV stations.

600LIVE!: How have you found the challenges of meeting virtually vs. in-person meetings?
SS: I do not like the virtual meetings. However, because of COVID-19, safety comes first, so if this is what it takes to have the meetings until this pandemic goes away, I guess I have to deal with it. I’m a strong advocate for meeting in person, because virtual gatherings can get out of hand when it comes to things like asking questions, debating, people talking over one another, bad bandwidth and other factors.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Metzger.

Jamie Metzger
DIT
Western Region

600LIVE! : What prompted you to run for the NEB? 
Jamie Metzger (JM): I was nominated to run for the NEB. I’m not sure I would have ever decided to run if my colleagues hadn’t nominated me.

600LIVE!: What does it mean to you to have a voice on your union’s leadership?
JM: I think a lot of people on the outside can get frustrated at how the union appears to work or how it makes decisions, but once you get on the inside, it’s clear that we have some of the most intelligent, passionate and caring people trying to steer the future of our union in a democratic process. It has been very eye-opening for me to see how many experienced people are on the NEB and the wide range of topics that people are passionate about. My goal as a DIT/NEB member is to represent DITs to the best of my ability and to help modernize Local 600’s view of how technology is going to impact all of our jobs. I am constantly researching new technology to assess its opportunities and sometimes, its threat to jobs. I hope that my small contribution can help Local 600 be more proactive about emerging technology and how it affects anyone inside the camera department.

600LIVE!: How have you found the challenges of meeting virtually vs. in-person meetings?
JM: I personally enjoy the online meetings. I do wish there was an estimate of how long the meetings might run so I can plan accordingly. I have been working out of town for the last year and these Zoom meetings have been crucial during COVID and I hope they stick around when things get back to normal. I recall being worried that I would have to fly back to L.A. over the weekend just to vote on the new president. Once Local 600 sorted out the Zoom conference and allowed me to vote remotely, it was a huge relief for me to be able to participate from afar. I think this kind of technology is essential for our industry since we can work anywhere in the world. Virtual meetings will allow our members to stay engaged and I think they will become more streamlined as well.

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