There are as many different reasons to vote in the 2020 election as there are Local 600 members. With labor unions under attack, the local has made it a top priority to mobilize the membership.
In a normal year, the local would be actively involved in get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts. But the shutdown this year has energized the campaign even more, particularly among the Young Workers who spent the early months of the pandemic registering members across the country in anticipation of multiple state primaries.
“The purpose behind 600’s 2020 Election Member to Member Outreach effort is threefold,” said Kathy Garmezy, a political consultant who works with Local 600. “First, to put a spotlight on government policies that directly impact 600 members and what they, and all working families, need to survive. Second, to make sure all 600 members have the information they need about voter registration and voting so they can be active participants in this election. And third, to do this through member to member contact which is always the most impactful way to communicate. All of this is to ensure that 600 members have what information they need to make good choices.”
The Guild has been asking members to submit short videos explaining why it’s important for them to vote. The Active Engagement Committee selects certain videos to share online and in the weekly e-newsletter.
The first two videos kicking off the campaign were directed by Camera Operators Chris Taylor and Eric Dyson. Dyson, who was enlisted by National President John Lindley, brought in some friends and put together his video in three days. He was easily persuaded to join the effort.
“If you want to see change, you need to be part of the change,” said Dyson. “So much material allows you to sit back and criticize your candidate or your opposition’s candidate. At some point, you have to put your money where your mouth is. I don’t feel like a complaint is legitimate unless you’re willing to back it up by putting a little footwork into it.”
For Camera Operator Allie Menapace, who submitted a video, the reasons for voting are personal and professional. She feels the current administration is stacking the courts with judges who are labor-unfriendly. As a member of the LGBT community, Menapace is concerned that another four years of the current administration could undo gains made in the areas of civil rights and reproductive rights.
“I’ve voted ever since I was eligible to vote, but I feel like this election is especially critical,” Menapace said. “I think we’re at a turning point and I feel like I need to do everything I can possibly do.”
Members who have submitted videos have not balked at the “keep it bipartisan” mandate, said E. Gunnar Mortensen who co-chairs the Active Engagement Committee with Assistant Waris Supanpong.
“Some of our members are trans, some are immigrants and a lot of them are just unhappy with the way things are going and feeling very politically motivated,” said Mortensen. “They want their voices heard. It’s a common theme.”
IATSE International has taken notice. In addition to working with Garmezy and National Executive Director Rebecca Rhine, the IATSE Political/Legislative Director Tyler McIntosh has noted that Local 600 – by being a national local and a local that works with visual images — is in a unique position to create impactful content.
“These wonderful public service announcements (PSAs) that have been coming out of Local 600 member submissions are a perfect example of utilizing our crafts for our political activism and also of using our skills not only to make a living, but to advance the political and legislative priorities of workers,” said McIntosh.
Supanpong notes that, thanks in part to the local’s campaign, more than 90% of Local 600 members are now registered to vote. Whether they will actually send in a ballot or go to a polling station, however, is the next challenge facing the local activists.
“Voting really is a core tenant of Western democracy. People have died to get the right to vote,” said Supanpong. “I really personally don’t care who you vote for. I just want you to vote.”