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Union contracts provide key safety nets in the ‘gig economy’

I think this discussion of worker benefits in the “gig economy” is excellent and very timely.

My older son is in the film business in Hollywood, and they have been living the gig economy for almost a century. There are very few people working in the film business who are employees. The vast majority of people in the business work on a project-by-project basis.

The safety net for almost all film industry workers is their unions. My son gets all his health benefits from his union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. He has a retirement fund that is partially funded by his contributions and partially funded by contributions from the studios. A percentage of all ticket sales for films goes into this retirement fund.

I know it may be whistling in the wind to talk about revitalising organized labor, but my son benefits directly from the contracts negotiated by IATSE, and he would be significantly disadvantaged as a worker in the gig economy of Hollywood if there were no contracts.

Paul Hardt is a former resident of St. Paul.

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