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WhileU.S.labourunionswereunderconservativefireRobertaReardoncampaignedhardastheNationalPresidentoftheAmericanFederationofTelevisionandRadioArtiststocreateasingleperformersunionintheUnitedStatesofAmerica.ThemergerwasapprovedinMarch201286byAFTRAmembersand82bySAGmembers.Atthe2012InternationalFederationofActorsFIAWorldCongressinTorontoIhadtheopportunitytochatwithRobertanowtheCo-PresidentofSAG-AFTRArepresentingover160000performersintheU.S.HeatherAllinLetstalkaboutthelandscapeforperformersaroundtheworldandwhyFIAisimportantforallofus.RobertaReardonFIAisanamazinginternationalorganizationthatwasestablishedtogiveustheopportunitytotalkopenlyasprofessionalperformersaboutourcollectiveissues.Producersaremovingaroundtheworldtocreateartandmanyofthemarebiginternationalcompanies.AspartofFIAweworktogethertoflagproducerswholooktofindcreativewaystogetawayfromworkingwithunions.Weleteveryoneknowthatnomatterwhereweworkwegotherewiththeprotectionofourunion.HeatherAllinACTRATorontoholdsmemberconferencestwiceayearandatthelastoneIwasapproachedbyanewmemberwhosaidTodayIrealizedthatbeingamemberoftheunionmeansthatIamnotalone.CanyousharesomeadvicewithourmembersontheimportanceofourperformerunionsRobertaReardonItscriticaltoconnectwithourmembers.Weneedtoempowerthemtospeakupforthemselvesasartists.WhereverIgoIspeakaboutwhyalabourunionforartistsistheonlywaythatwecanhavesomesecurityandberespectedasprofessionalworkers.Inmycountryifwedidnthavelabourunionsforperformerswedallbehobbyists.Somebodymayormaynotpayuswellbutwewouldneverhaveanyabilitytocontrolourimageorcontrolourworksite.Companiesaregettingbigandmakingalotofmoney.Theyhavesomuchcontrol.Ifwedidnthavelabourunionstoprotectusitwouldbeadisasterforeverybody.HeatherAllinHowdoyouhandletheanti-unionsentimentintheU.S.RobertaReardonIremindeveryonethatunionratesholdupalloftheotherrates.TheUnitedStatesiscurrentlyexperiencingananti-unionperiodbecauseuniondensityhasgottensosmallthatpeoplewhodonthaveprotectionsarelookingatwhatunionworkershaveandsayingWhyshouldyouhaveadefinedbenefitpensionWhyshouldyouhaveworkrulesonsetandHowcomeyougettotellemployershowmuchtheypayyouIsimplysayYoucanhaveittoo.AndIremindthemthatifunionratesgodownweallsinktogether.HeatherAllinWhengiventheopportunityhowdoyousuggestthatwepromoteourunionsRobertaReardonUnionsareactuallycommunitypartnersbutgoodnewsstoriesrarelymakeitintheheadlines.TheU.S.postalworkershostanationalfoodbankdriveeveryyearbutnoteveryoneknowsthis.ItisahugelysuccessfulprogramandgiventherisinglevelofpovertyintheUnitedStatesitsacriticalinitiative.Asunionworkersweshouldtalkaboutthegoodworkthatwedo.Weneedtohelppeopleunderstandthatwerenottryingtopreventanyonefromworking.Wewantthemtojoinusraisetheirstandardsandhelpsetagendasforeveryonetoaspireto.AunionizedworkforcespendsmoneyinitsLeadingWomenAninspiring2-in-a-roominterviewwithRobertaReardonCo-presidentofSAG-AFTRAbyHeatherAllinThen-AFTRANationalPresidentRobertaReardonatthepodiumduringtheunionslastNationalConventioninJuly2011.PhotoRowlandPhotography