In support of broadcast members, the IBEW has joined with about a dozen other unions within the entertainment industry to share resources as part of a pledge to combat workplace harassment.
The IBEW and other unions are members of the Department for Professional Employees, a coalition of 24 member-organizations representing professional, technical and highly skilled workers. The 12-union group working to battle harassment includes leading entertainment unions such as SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity, Directors Guild of America and the American Federation of Musicians. It represents about 500,000 workers.
|The IBEW represents camera personnel and technicians at some of the most high-profile media companies in North America, including Fox Sports and CBS.
Most IBEW broadcast members in the entertainment industry work as camera operators and technicians, with the most high-profile members nationally working at Fox Sports and CBS.
“Every leader within the IBEW has been saddened by revelations of sexual harassment within the entertainment industry,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “They’ve been heartbreaking. We’ve listened closely to our members working in the field and they tell us more needs to be done to secure a safe environment where threatening behavior is not tolerated.
“Sharing our resources and working with other unions is the best way to achieve that. The IBEW has been an active part of this coalition from the outset and will continue to support its work.”
The topic became part of the national conversation in October 2017, when the New York Times and the New Yorker reported sexual harassment allegations against powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, along with charges that Weinstein had paid off women for decades to keep their allegations quiet.
The Weinstein Company’s board of directors fired him from his position as head of the company soon after. The news sparked the #metoo Movement and Weinstein, who has denied the allegations, was arrested by New York police and released on bail in May 2018. He is awaiting trial on rape and sex abuse charges.
“Individual unions have done a lot of great work before and after the Harvey Weinstein revelations to protect and support their members,” Department for Professional Employees President Jennifer Dorning said. “With all the individual efforts, we felt like it was the right time to come together and support our members in shared workplaces.”
The agreement was formally approved by the participating unions during a Dec. 13 meeting. Other unions that are part of the coalition include the American Guild of Musical Artists, American Guild of Variety Artists, Guild of Italian American Artists, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Office and Professional Employees International Union, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and Writers Guild of America East.
Dorning said initiatives are still being developed, but the unions are expected to share information on how to prevent harassment, including sharing union codes of conduct and training resources for members and leaders.
“Change usually starts with our members,” Broadcasting & Telecommunications Director Martha Pultar said. “We encourage anyone who has experienced or witnessed harassment of any kind to contact their steward or business manager. Members also can reach out to the Broadcasting Department at the International Office for guidance.
“This is a difficult subject to address, but it’s vitally important. Every IBEW member is entitled to a safe place to work.”