When your parents were the president of an SEIU local and a staff member at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, you’re pretty much fated to have a career in labor, right?
Well, sort of, says Local 600’s new Assistant Eastern Region Director Jennifer Madar.
“I think at some point, I said ‘I never ever want to do this,’” said Madar, who started at Local 600 on June 7. “And of course, that’s what you end up doing. I basically grew up on a picket line, and my parents worked long hours. You’re not always understanding about that when you’re a kid.”
A native of Eagle Rock, Madar is the daughter of former SEIU President David Bullock and Diane Bullock who worked for Bill Robertson and James Wood at the L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Madar studied International Relations at USC and considered graduate school or law school. Instead, she moved to New York and began a career in labor relations with SEIU, organizing home care and nursing home workers in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and the New York and New Jersey areas.
When Madar was moving back to California in 2005, the national organizer with IATSE Local 700 (The Editors Guild) told her there was an opportunity with the union. Although the landscape for health care labor was different from that of an entertainment guild, Madar was curious. She had relatives who were IATSE members and she grew up with their stories about the industry.
She returned to L.A. to start the job, Madar said, “but I didn’t expect to stay for as many years as I ended up staying,” she laughed.
At 700, Madar worked as an organizer and a field rep working with contract enforcement in L.A., and eventually ended up moving back to New York. There, she came to know Associate National Executive Director/Eastern Region Director Chaim Kantor as well as several of the Local 600 eastern region reps, and was excited to throw her hat in the ring when the opening at ICG became available.
In the month since starting at her new post, Madar has been getting acclimated to the new office, and getting acquainted with her fellow eastern region staff members.
“I look forward to visiting sets and start to get an idea of the work people do,” Madar said “Basically editors are in offices, and you walk the halls and knock on people’s doors and you don’t have to worry about cameras rolling or stepping over cable or interfering with shots. Learning how to navigate sets will be very different from post-production.”
But whether the IATSE members work on set or in post, Madar knows that the union plays a vital role in helping them live a comfortable and satisfying life.
“I work with people in a freelance industry, and it can be very difficult to provide money for retirement or have health insurance, because there is uncertainty,” said Madar. “I have aunts and uncles who were able to retire and have great health insurance and benefits, and not everybody who works as a freelancer or gets to do something creative gets that.”
“Usually there’s a tradeoff. I think it’s very important that industries like this are organized so that people can pursue the type of creative work that they want to do, but don’t have to give up on their security.”