Griffith Observatory planetarium storytellers seek to unionize

The astronomical tour guides whose job it’s to level out the Massive Dipper and clarify the Massive Bang to guests of Griffith Observatory have petitioned to hitch a union higher recognized for representing stars of the theatrical selection.

The dozen observatory lecturers on the Los Angeles establishment have unanimously signed union authorization playing cards with the Actors’ Fairness Assn. A petition was introduced to the town’s Worker Relations Board throughout a gathering Monday morning, kicking off a proper suggestions interval earlier than the board comes to a decision in just a few months.

On Thursdays by Sundays, the planetarium lecturers entertain legions of schoolkids and households, narrating and contextualizing the actions of the celestial our bodies projected above them. A majority of the lecturers are already Actors’ Fairness members by their different performing and performing engagements.

“We’re telling tales concerning the sky,” stated Michael Faulkner, who’s labored on the Griffith Observatory for greater than a decade. “In that manner, we’re nodding to the myths of the previous and people who advised tales concerning the constellations. Mankind’s relationship to the celebs has at all times been primal and wealthy with intention.”

Faulkner stated he and his fellow petitioners wouldn’t have an adversarial relationship with their direct supervisors, however slightly needed a voice with their final employer — the town of L.A. — and a proper pathway to carry up issues about their working circumstances.

The observatory lecturers are additionally the one non-unionized workers within the constructing; different museum employees and technicians are represented by unions equivalent to AFSCME, the nation’s largest union of public workers.

Faulkner stated his place was part of AFSCME many years earlier than however was eliminated shortly earlier than he joined the observatory. Since then, observatory lecturers haven’t acquired a elevate.

“They needed to have a say with their employers, similar to their colleagues aspect by aspect with them,” stated Actors’ Fairness organizing director Stef Frey.

Along with negotiating wage, one other potential good thing about organizing with the actors’ union is consolidating medical health insurance, since a number of the present union members who work on the observatory earn Actors’ Fairness insurance coverage by their different performing engagements, Frey stated.

Extra importantly, Faulkner believes that becoming a member of a union might protect the longevity of getting stay performers on the planetarium, one thing that many establishments across the nation now not do.

“Our function is exclusive and it’s acceptable that in Hollywood, California, there’s a stay particular person decoding this textual content — which is typically technical language, typically like Shakespeare,” Faulkner stated.

Within the following months, employees and the town representatives could have the chance to offer enter on the Actors’ Fairness petition and the appropriateness of the bargaining unit earlier than the Worker Relations Board comes to a decision on approving or rejecting the union.

The organizing completed with the lecturers at Griffith Observatory is a part of a broader new organizing focus by Actors’ Fairness, which lately helped a gaggle of strippers at Star Backyard file a petition for a union election with the Nationwide Labor Relations Board.

“It’s a extremely good instance of the form of work that Fairness members do everywhere in the nation that’s performative in nature and is stay however that traditionally Fairness hasn’t been as proactive about as we’re beginning to be now,” stated Actors’ Fairness President Kate Shindle.

Although many campaigns are usually not public but, Shindle stated the union is trying into representing different employees equivalent to actors who help in medical coaching, performers at company occasions, and improv artists.

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