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No Unions Allowed at Republican National Convention

Trump actively avoided using union labor and highlighted Becky Friedrichs on day 1

Brian Young's picture
Aug 25, 2020

This week the Republicans are holding their National Convention. While disgraced pastors, almost all of Trump’s children, and nearly every C list conservative “celebrity” will be speaking, one group that will be absent are union members.

According to the IATSE, Republicans were set to work with IATSE 322 in Charlotte, but Trump decided to move the convention to Jacksonville after North Carolina refused to let him have a full, no mask convention in the middle of a pandemic. When the convention moved, Local 115 was set to get the work, but when that fell through, they lost out as well. Thanks to an agreement with the City Council, some of the staging for non-televised events in Charlotte is still being done by Local 322. However, all of the staging, lighting, audio, and camera work seen on tv in primetime is being done non-union.  The lack of skill on the part of these non-union workers could be seen at the convention with audio sometimes going out. There were also significant lighting issues that made the speakers appear to have a glare behind them.

Thanks to the non-union crews preparing speaking sites, at least one national park was damaged. According to reports from the National Park Service, a non-union forklift driver damaged Fort McHenry in Baltimore in preparation for Vice President Mike Pence’s speech. Sources tell UCOMM Blog that a company, Charm City, was responsible for staging the speech. Pence will speak from the Fort on Wednesday.

“When you skimp on production and bend over backwards to use non-union labor, this is what happens” said IATSE in a tweet. “But even worse, is watching the #RNC2020 cut corners while so many top-tier IATSE pros are unemployed. It's a slap in the face.”

In comparison, last week’s Democratic National Convention was put on by numerous local IATSE unions including Local 18 in Milwaukee, Local 8 in Philadelphia, and Local 284 in Delaware.

Going to great lengths to ensure a non-union workforce, shouldn’t surprise anyone. UCOMM has routinely reported on Trump’s attacks on organized labor, including his support for a National Right to Work bill.

At the convention, the anti-union sentiment continued. Rebecca Friedrichs, a California teacher who sued her union so that she wouldn’t have to pay fair share fees was one of the speakers on the first night. While she lost her case before the Supreme Court, the case would reappear in 2018 as the Janus v AFSCME case and bring right to work to all public employees. Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch who ended up being the deciding vote in the case.

In her speech, Friedrichs took aim at teacher’s unions saying that they were using their “radical agenda” to turn schools into “war zones.” She also said unions “pervert the memories of our American founders.” She reminded Republicans that it was the Obama/Biden administration that argued against her in the Supreme Court and California Attorney General Kamala Harris who originally argued against the case in the state courts. She said unions are “subverting our republic so they try to undermine educational excellence, morality, law and order.” Friedrichs went on to say “Their comrades labeled us spawns of Satan and slandered us in mainstream media.”

Between preventing union members from working on the broadcast to highlighting Friedrichs on night one, it is clear that Trump is not on the side of working men and women. Remember this in November.

Correction a previous version of this story said that Crew Works worked on this, however they have reached out to let us know they were not involved in the production of the RNC.

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