Get me back my Union card
Organized by: Tymm Simpson
I lost my standing as a proud card carrying journeyman member of IATSE Local 205 two years ago as a result of unpaid back dues. While not at all extravagant I owed something in the neighborhood of $300. I am very dedicated to the concept of collective bargaining for a fair hourly wage and conditions. I have refused to work for companies that underpay their workers and undermine my union brothers and sisters stubbornly only accept either work through the hall or through companies with existing Union contracts or as good or better fair prevailing rates and conditions. I firmly believe the only way stagehands in Austin will be fairly compensated with decent and safe conditions is if the prevailing wages in my industry are at least within a dollar of Union base rate and conditions. Its expensive to live in Austin now but the rates for most hourly workers for live even production companies are still at 1990 levals . At the time I did not have any access to that extra money.Two years ago I went through some major transition.I was in a desperate place.Broken up with girlfriend , In severe depression, I had to move from my home for decade into a shed(which was a very nice shed to be sure)and I had all my teeth removed due to gum disease which was a bit of a system and financial shock to say the least. My annual income at the time was in the area of 11,000 which is basically what a full time minimum wage worker makes. Those things I dealt with. I now have a wonderful stable living situation with a fantastic landlady and if you didn't know it you probably wouldn't guess I have a full set of functional false teeth. Now I'd like to get my card back but not only do I owe my back dues at the time of being dropped but all the dues that have accrued since. While I have gotten myself back to a point of relative stability the thousand or so dollars needed to get my union card back is beyond my current earning ability and its growing all the time. At the same time IATSE 205 is growing and my standing on the over hire list is never guaranteed and accounts for roughly half my current income (the other half is through a company with a union contract)While stable my income remains pretty much hand to mouth and my lack of a union card makes going where i need to for my own financial security and working towards fair representation and compensation in my industry in Austin's increasingly expensive growth difficult if not impossible. I do not own a car, and as anyone can tell you the cost of living in Austin is going nowhere but up. Even a minor unexpected set back could pretty much put me on the street. I have chosen to live a fairly non materialistic lifestyle not because I am lazy but because it is my firm belief that too much of our current society is based on paying money one does not have for things which one does not need and look where that has got us(us meaning ALL of us). I cannot as an indivigual change that but I will not contribute to it. My choice yes but I do not take welfare or food stamps either. I just want to cover my own ass and go on with my life treading as lightly as possible on the planet. At this point it is critical for me to be actively involved in a collective bargaining unit not just for my sake but to enable me to work past my own needs and actively raise the bar for everyone working in my industry locally. While it has gotten a little better the prevailing wages for non whitecoller workers in Austin is about five to ten dollars per hour below what it costs to live here. I want to work to change this but I need to be able to work actively with my union brothers and sisters to help make that happen and without membership that is increasingly difficult. I'd like to devote myself full time to this but I need to get over this hump to move forward with that vis a vis securing myself enough in this community to do so. All donations will be placed in a specific account just for this and any money raised over what I need for that will be donated to IATSE 205. No money raised will be used for any other personal expenses of mine. I am open to any requests for complete transparency in this. Help me help myself. Help me get my card back so I can give back to the community in which I live.