I had a conversation with one of my students today during office hours, she was telling me how she had achieved one of her goals, I congratulated her and then asked
"So how are you going to celebrate that?"
"Maybe post about it on Facebook" she replied.
And I thought in this moment how I too have just achieved something, a long goal I had been working for, And hadn't really managed to celebrate at all either. Hadn't managed to even "post about it on Facebook."
So here it goes.
Today I was elected as a Trustee to the United Scenic Artist 829 Local Union Executive Board.
Nearly 700 members checked a box next to my name, they chose me to represent them.
I am deeply moved by their confidence.
I am extremely grateful to everyone who lended their support to my campaign.
And to the brilliant humans who encouraged me to run in the first place.
Thank you all!
Maybe gonna celebrate with a nap.
What do you see as the opportunity in this moment for transformational change in our industry and our union?
“It's a chance for us as an industry to reassess our priorities. To scream "WHY???" at our traditions.
To break things down and understand the reasoning behind them. Then question that reason. To look at our mission statements and ask, what does this actually mean to us and to the folks we serve, and to figure out how to be accountable to those missions.“
- Sherrice Mojgani
Running for LUEB Trustee from Eastern Region Living Outside of NYC
I won’t be able to join in this event because kiddos bedtime routine is like a three act play. Instead I tried to answer as many of your questions as I could without being repetitive. Please let me know if I can further clarify anything.
Questions are in italics
What are your top 3 concrete actionable priorities if you are elected?
Where do you stand on the creation of a national HR resource for sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other complains to be made that would take the place of HR complaints to individual theaters?
Sounds interesting how about yes and.
What do you plan to do to increase representation of minorities in the union?
Shine a light on barriers of entry and encourage deep investigation into systematic racism within our ranks and throughout our industry
Do you support the Diversity Committee & Respectful Workplace Taskforce's CALL TO ACTION ?
Yes, did the board not even respond to that? Please do not wait for elections to be over support this.
How many board meetings, committee meetings, or other union (not election) related meetings have you attended since the mid-March shut down, and what have you been working on during them for the good of ALL members?
Since the shut down I have been to the BIPOC listening session and one GMM. The one right after the listening session. I was vocal during the listening session, I tried to ask thoughtful questions during the GMM but they went unanswered.
If you haven't held a position on a board or participated in a committee, why is now the time for you to take a leadership position in the union and what about your fresh point of view makes you the right person for the position?
I'm not sure if this questioner would count my time serving as Diversity Committee Co-chair as being on a Committee. Or maybe I don't because I felt like we were so disconnected from the membership and the board. Now is the time because not working on the problem of BIPOC representation within the union makes me feel like an Uncle Tom.
My question is about the offensive email that was sent by former 829 financial secretary Cathy Keator to members warning them that BIPOC and racial justice candidates should not be in charge of the pension. What is your response to these dog-whistle racist comments? Also, what are your thoughts on former and current union officials exerting the power of their office to sway the election?
Wait what?! I did not get this email, crazy!
But I do think this election has been super ugly. I received an email letting me know why I should vote for someone other than myself 🤣🤣🤣
It has made me sad and angry and disappointed. I also think some of it was clearly negative campaigning but I don't know if there are clear steps of repercussions for negative campaigning.
What are your thoughts on the fact that members working in MOPIC bring in an overwhelming majority of union funds yet are woefully under represented on our boards?
Yep that's messed up and should be fixed
Would you support having Zoom GMMs in perpetuity? If that is not possible then how can we ensure that our working members are able to participate in GMMs considering the meetings happen at a time and location that makes it impossible to attend when you are working?
Yes, virtual GMMs forever please.
How will you work to make communication between the board and business offices and membership more transparent?
Constantly asking questions
"Given the current posturing of management in the entertainment industry as a result of COVID, it seems likely that our employers will insist that wage cuts (or at minimum no increases) will be a forthcoming position for the next round of contract negotiations. How do you intend to counter the argument that ""the whole industry is hurting"" and that returning to work with lower or stagnant wages is simply the cost of the pandemic?"
I think we have to stand firm, on at least a cost of living increase. Along with clearer standards on working hours and support. If we cut back now we will have to work twice as hard in the future to regain that respect for our labor and our craft.
I have been a union member since the 2015 membership drive. That same year Porsche McGovern released her data on “Who Designs in LORT Theatres”, and I felt like throwing up. I felt like I had been lied to — how could I possibly become one of only 75 female lighting designers working in LORT?
I emailed Porsche, and we started working with Jenny Mannis and Dante Olivia Smith on an idea that would eventually become the USA 829 Diversity Committee. At the end of 2016, we sent out a demographic survey to the membership; nearly a year later, we were allowed to release some of the data to the membership in a newsletter most members don't read. To recap: only 16% of survey respondents identified as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color). As a mixed-race woman, I was not surprised: I was angry.
I spent two years as co-chair of the Diversity Committee, working on the fringes of a union that refused to acknowledge its contributions to the problem. During that time, I heard countless stories of talented and dedicated designers who were unable to join the union for lack of financial resources, or promising designers of color who were driven away by an industry and union filled with micro (and not-so-micro) aggressions.
So what now? I have been isolating at home in Virginia with my husband and two small children since March 13th. I am privileged to have a teaching position that will most likely be our primary source of income until the pandemic ends. What kind of an industry will we be coming back to?
How do we protect our members and keep our industries afloat? Where do we need to transform our practices? Our current leadership keeps on telling us that “the membership is the union.” But I find myself asking, “Does that leadership even know who the membership is and what we need?”
I believe the Executive Board needs to hold the Business Office accountable to the principles and values of the membership. The Union needs transparency, and the Board needs to earn the trust of the members. We need clear guidance on reporting grievances and harassment that does not involve the Business Office. We need to work with other unions in our industry to address systemic issues, and we need to take responsibility for the harm that has been caused by our union. We need to continue the ongoing work of making this union accessible and equitable for everyone with the calling to our craft.
I am endorsed by: Dante Olivia Smith (LD), Porsche McGovern (LD), Jenny Mannis (CD), Lindsay Jones (SND), Stowe Nelson (SND), Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams (SD), Jane Shaw (SND) Jennifer Caprio (CD)
Sherrice Mojgani here, I'm running for a Trustee seat on the Local Union Executive Board designated for Eastern Region (outside of New York).
I live in Virginia now but when I joined the union in 2015 I was living in Southern California.
This labor day weekend I've been thinking alot about what it means to me to be a proud union member in 2020?
Here is what I’ve come up with:
I must take pride in the work, and have enough self worth to organize and demand to be treated fairly. And in doing so make an easier way for those who will work with me now and in the future.
And I say all this acknowledging that I don’t know when the next time will be that I might step into a theatre, sit down at a desk and light a play.
I believe in this model of abundance. That as a union we can address all the challenges of working this industry.
I know from lived experience that USA 829 needs to give more support to BIPOC membership, to anyone working primarily as an assistant or associate and to anyone trying to exist in our union while balancing caregiver duties. This is what I have lived, I also acknowledge there are other problems that need our attention urgently.
I believe the union must practice equity and justice as we address the needs of our members.
For too long women and BIPOC members have been told their concerns were not big enough problems and their ideas were not good enough. I have spent five years as a member of this union trying to convince white people that my good ideas were actually their good ideas. But it is a new day. My goal now is to be a voice for women and BIPOC members on this board.