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Unionists Chasing Daley & Gore on Trade Issue

From: <

Subject: Unionists Chasing Daley & Gore 

From: Michael Everett,

Here's a few notes on the last three days of tracking Commerce Secretary Daley on his NAFTA promotion tour in LA, and cornering Al Gore on the same issue.

On Thursday morning we confronted the Commerce Secretary at a fat cat luncheon at the LA Chamber of Commerce. Some of the unions participating were IATSE, Teamsters, UFCW, and HERE Local 11, whose union hall is directly across the street from the Chamber. Sierra Club and other environmental and social justice groups also participated. We cornered Daley as he got on his bus and had a spirited debate on the destructive policies he came to LA to promote.

As Daley's bus pulled away from the Chamber of Commerce, our Fair Trade caravan stuck to him like a cheap suit and tailed him to Pasadena where he visited an Internet company (one of the places we're all supposed to be able to get good paying jobs to replace the ones killed by NAFTA). The owner of the company said we deserved to be unemployed because we were overpaid and that's why the jobs were leaving.

On the sidewalk I had an interesting conversation with a free trade lobbyist from Washington that went something like this:

ME: As a free trade advocate, how do you rationalize the removal of film jobs to Canada by 'non-tariff trade barriers' like rebates? Aren't these the very thing that NAFTA was designed to end?

LOBBYIST: We're in negotiation on that issue right now.

ME: Why do you find yourself having to negotiate something that a few years ago, you wrote into NAFTA and agreed to? Didn't anybody read it before they signed it?

LOBBYIST: We had to give some things up to get the agreement.

BYSTANDER: In other words you sold them out!

LOBBYIST: Well, uh......

Next Daley went to UCLA. I skipped this part to prepare for the Sony protest, but I'm told Daley and his policies were confronted by a large contingent of anti-NAFTA students.

Thursday night, Daley was supposed to appear at a dinner at Sony studios hosted by the MPAA. Earlier Daley had denied to us that this event was happening, but we assumed he was lying, and continued with our protest plans. I arrived at the Sony gates at 6:30 pm to find a crowd of 50-75 film workers with signs and banners. Some of the locals present were Camera, Sound, Wardrobe, Props, and Electric. Also present were representatives of the Performers Alliance which just won control of SAG, and a number of FTAC supporters.

This was the first multi-union protest against a major studio since the Studio Strikes of 1945-46, and we hope the studios got the message that a price will have to be paid for exporting our jobs.

Sony closed down their East gate and brought out a line of security people. A Culver City cop came out to complain about our bull horn and to advise us that Daley absolutely wasn't appearing at Sony. As we debated whether to declare a victory and disperse, someone glimpsed Daley's bus sneaking down Washington Blvd. to the Overland gate and we went after it and continued our vigil there. Channel 7 (ABC) showed up and I gave them the best set of sound bites I've ever delivered, but unfortunately they didn't make it onto the air.

Friday morning Daley was supposed to meet with the ILWU (Longshore workers) on the docks, but Luisa Gratz, head of the dock workers cut him off at the knees with a stern press release canceling the event and saying they declined to be used for a photo-op of Daley for his anti-labor policies. We caught up with Daley at his next and final event at a waterfront hotel in Long Beach where our numbers were augmented by longshore workers. I understand we got a good story in the Long Beach Press Telegram, but I haven't seen it yet. We also got an excellent story in the Seattle Times.

Friday night as we were wrapping up our protest and preparing to return our pursuit van, we got word that Al 'NAFTA' Gore would make a campaign appearance in Pasadena, so we decided to continue one more day and go after Gore. We could only muster a half dozen for this protest, but we managed to leaflet the crowd and set up our signs and banners across from the entrance. A sympathetic legislator stopped by to show support and to add our names to the Gore guest list.

The other protestors were beat from 3 days of chaos, and I was the only one who elected to stay and enter the rally. Watching Gore was interesting -- all the usual political bullshit about how great his family is and what a regular guy he is, etc. etc. When the time for questions came, the first two questioners denounced him (it was unclear what their issue was) and were dragged out by the SS. I patiently waited my turn and kept my hand up while I seemed to have my own personal SS detail hovering behind me. I managed to catch Gore's attention and hollered out, "What about Hollywood jobs?". He gave me a sign of acknowledgment that he would answer it next, but he never got to it.

When it came time to press the flesh, I, with my SS detail right on my back, worked our way through the crowd to position myself for a handshake. When Gore finally reached for my hand, two SS agents all but had their arms around my waist ready to throw me to the ground. I asked Gore about Hollywood jobs, and he said, "We're working on the issue." I replied, "Doesn't this need to be negotiated at the international trade level?" He replied, "Yes, we've put it on the table at the WTO."

So that's my report of 3 days in LA. My conclusion is, that at least in so far as the Hollywood jobs issue goes, they don't have a leg to stand on, and we have them on the run. The NAFTA loophole that killed our jobs was created by their own hand, probably through incompetence, maybe through maliciousness. It's an embarrassing issue for them and we need to rub their faces in it and not let up.

We're going to propose a plan to systematically dog Gore on this issue every time he shows up on our turf -- that goes for Bradley and Bush too, and I hope we can count on growing assistance from the Hollywood rank and file as we push this issue onto the front burner.

Michael Everett IATSE 728

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