StandUpUAW Strike Support Drive

Nearly 34,000 UAW members are participating in a strike against the Detroit Three automakers. The strike began on Sept. 15 with 13,000 workers. Ford, GM and Stellantis made a combined QUARTER-TRILLION DOLLARS in North American profits over the last decade. But UAW members never got their fair share. Autoworkers are standing up to raise standards at the Big Three and for every worker. We are asking you to support the fight against greedy bosses. Workers want a fair share of the wealth that they help to create.


In past talks, our union’s core demands were called the President’s Demands and they were often passed to the company behind closed doors. This year they’re the Members’ Demands. This is what we’re demanding at Ford, GM and Stellantis. UAW members are thinking big. The Big Three can afford it.

ELIMINATE TIERS – It’s wrong to make any worker second class. The Teamsters ended tiers at UPS. We’re ending them at the Big Three.

BIG WAGE INCREASES – We’re demanding double-digit pay raises. Big Three CEOs saw their pay spike 40 percent on average over the last four years. We know our members are worth the same and more.

RESTORE COLA – Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) made sure the working class thrived for decades. It must be restored.

DEFINED BENEFIT PENSION FOR ALL WORKERS – All workers deserve the retirement security UAW members had for generations.

RE-ESTABLISH RETIREE MEDICAL BENEFITS – That’s just as essential as a solid pension.

RIGHT TO STRIKE OVER PLANT CLOSURES – The Big Three have closed 65 plants over the last 20 years. That’s devastated our hometowns. We must have the right to defend our communities.

WORKING FAMILY PROTECTION PROGRAM – This program keeps UAW members on the job and product in our plants. If companies try a shutdown, they’ll have to pay UAW members to do community-service work.

END ABUSE OF TEMP WORKERS – We are going to end the abuse of temps. Our fight at the Big Three is a fight for every worker.

MORE PAID TIME OFF TO BE WITH FAMILIES – Our members are working 60, 70, even 80 hours a week just to make ends meet. That’s not living. It’s barely surviving and it needs to stop.

SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE RETIREE PAY – We owe our retirees everything. They built these companies and they built our union.


The bosses think they can starve Unions out. Their hope is that the striking workers will become so desperate for money that they will have to give up their demands and return to work. Show them that Union workers will not break. Show them the strength that comes from Union Solidarity.

“This is our generation’s defining moment. What we win will set the standard not only for our members, but for the entire working class. This is our time to fight; for our families, for our communities, and for working people everywhere.” – Shawn Fain UAW President

If you are in able to, please donate to our collection drive for striking UAW workers. Collection boxes are located at our Local’s office and backstage at the Van Andel Arena.






Pull-ups of all sizes

Paper Towels

Toilet Tissue

Body Wash

Bar Soap

Personal Hygiene Products


Cough Medicine

Coffee Cups with Lids

Canned Fruit

Canned Vegetables

Non-Perishable Food



We will deliver all collected items to the striking workers.

Other Ways to Help

  • Sign the “All In with UAW” online petition and share it on social media #StandUpUAW

  • Find a picket line near you and walk the picket line.

  • For those near Grand Rapids, remember the UAW also represents workers at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. You can walk the line at 86 Monroe St NW. It is conveniently located between our two busiest venues for those that want to drop in.


  • Call 1-318-300-1249 to leave a message for the CEOs of Ford, GM, and Stellantis and tell them UAW members deserve the same 40% raise they got over the last four years


Union support has never been stronger. That’s because Americans know that when workers join together and fight for what they deserve, they’re unstoppable.

When we Fight, WE WIN!

Workplace Behavior

Important message for all members and referents:

We cannot stress enough how important it is for every member and referent to read and adhere to the message below. While this may come as “new” information to some, it has always been in place and will continue to be in place.

Everyone should be treated with respect and professionalism.

You should refer to someone by name, title, or stated pronoun.

From time-to-time physical contact with another worker will happen given our jobs however everyone should feel comfortable and safe at our workplace. Using unnecessary force or purposefully continuing to touch someone after they have told you to stop is considered harassment regardless of your intent. No means no.

You have the freedom of speech not the freedom from consequences.

Local 26 does not tolerate retaliation for complaints and if you are found guilty of retaliation you could be barred from the local.

The employer may take their own action in all workplace rules/laws.  We will always represent our members and referents to make sure all punishments are fair, for just cause, and proportionate to the offense.

If you have any question as to if any actions could violate the above guidelines, please reach out to any department head/steward, the employer, the local’s office, the executive board, or the international at the soonest time you feel safe to speak to someone about it.  If you need to remove yourself from the situation to feel safe do so, but do not leave the job site.

Local 26 is taking steps to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

If you feel unsafe in our workplace because of the actions of an individual, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Department Heads, the Employer, Executive Board or the IATSE’s Hotline 844-422-9273. If you have travelled outside of our jurisdiction to work for another Local, the hotline or the IATSE Safety app can connect you with the leadership of that jurisdiction. It is available through the Apple and Android.

We want every referent and member to have a safe place to work.

IATSE Local 26’s nondiscrimination and misconduct policies apply to all members, referents, probationary referents, and office staff. Stagehands refers to this collective group. We cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to feel safe, respected, and protected by Local 26.

Misconduct will not be tolerated be it from a stagehand, Employer, Vendor, or anyone else on the jobsite.  Local 26 will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who, in good faith, reports or provides information about suspected misconduct.

Any stagehand who retaliates against anyone involved in an investigation will be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from the Referral List.

Sexual Harassment, Discrimination, and Misconduct should be reported as the safety issues that they are.

The following is a list of FAQ. We will do our best to update as more questions arise.

9.  Misconduct. Any person who engages in gross misconduct, extreme misbehavior, creates a disturbance, or engages in disorderly, abusive, or threatening conduct at the referral hall, online, or at a worksite or who intentionally interferes with or disrupts the administration of the referral procedure will be subject, at the discretion of the Union’s Business Agent, to a suspension from the referral list until the Executive Board can decide on disciplinary action. The department head or duly appointed union representative at the venue where the misconduct occurs will file a written report to the Executive Board detailing the misconduct or misbehavior. This report will include names and contact information of any witnesses, participants, and/or affected individuals.

11. There shall be no discrimination by the Union or any of its members against any referent because of their race, sex, age, disability, color, national origin, religion, creed, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, or any other protected class or on the basis of Union membership or non- membership (as long as Federal or State Right to Work laws exist), or placement on the Referral List.

The side of good. The main purpose of a union is to protect the workers. We strive to protect the targets of abuse and harassment. We also try to help rehabilitate and educate people that have done something wrong but wish to make up for it.

Local 26 has a duty or fair representation. We do our best to defend the person even when we cannot defend the action. That does not mean we tolerate bad behavior. It means that we investigate thoroughly, practice progressive discipline, and encourage education as part of the rehabilitation process. All disciplinary actions must have just cause and be proportional to the misconduct.

Any Employer that chooses to take action against anyone under our protection will be held to those same standards.

No. Not unless you give us permission.

 Best case scenario there will be witnesses, a camera, or situation where we can site a third party could have seen the incident. If we begin to investigate and are unable to proceed without risking the bad actor realizing who filed the complaint, we will stop and discuss it with you before we proceed.

There are times when you will have to choose between staying anonymous and action being taken. We will never decide for you. We will support you.

 Follow the same steps you would use to report any other safety issue.

  1. If in immediate danger, first clear the area
  1. Report to the Department Head
  1. Report to the Employer/Vendor on site
  1. Report to the Local

West Michigan Stagehands

Office 616-742-5526

Call Steward 616-808-1892

  1. Report to IATSE Safety Hotline

IATSE Safety Hotline:



If you have travelled outside of our jurisdiction to work for another Local, the hotline or the IATSE Safety app can connect you with the leadership of that jurisdiction. It is available through the Apple and Android.

DO NOT LEAVE THE JOBSITE without permission from the employer. Labor law is clear, you cannot be punished for refusing to do something unsafe. Step to the side and start up the chain of command.

Walking off a call is a 30-day suspension according to our referral procedure.

Article 7

  1. Leaving Early. Should a referent need to be replaced on a call while on site, the referent will notify their department head or steward who will make necessary arrangements with the call steward for a suitable replacement. If a referent fails to obtain approval from the employer for an early departure from a call, the referent will be suspended from the referral list for thirty (30) days for each occurrence. 

The Business Agent handles the day to day issues of the Local. If you are more comfortable with another member of the Executive Board, we are here for you. The Local’s Office Staff (616-742-5526) and the Call Stewards (616-808-1892) have contact information for everyone on the Board or you can drop us a line on the Contact page.

Tyler Blackport is our Member-At-Large, his duty is to represent the interests of the members (and referents) of the Local. If you are unsure if you want to pursue action, he is a good resource to talk it out. The Member-At-Large email is

You do not have to reveal to the anyone why you would like to speak to someone on the Board, but please do relay if it is time sensitive so the Office Staff/Call Steward can give you options if any individual is unable to respond right away.

Local 26 is not the Employer and is limited in our actions. We must have complaints in writing. We will help you write out a report or take notes and have you sign it. The basic facts we need are:

When – The date and at least a rough idea of time

Where – On the Job, Online, which Event

Who – Who was involved? Who could have witnessed it?

What – What happened? What was said?


Whether you are first time department head or you just feel out of your depth, remember that we are in this together. You do not have to wait for everything to go wrong before you ask for help. We are available by call, text, and email. Specify if it is time sensitive.

This applies to someone making a report to you as well as someone asking you to represent them.

The Local’s Office Staff (616-742-5516) and the Call Stewards (616-808-1892) have contact information for everyone on the Board or you can drop us a line on the Contact page.

Keep calm.

Invoke your Weingarten Rights!

Local 26 does it’s best to defend the person even when we can’t defend the action.

We take our duty of representation seriously. We will make sure that everyone is given a fair chance to tell their side of the story, a proper investigation is conducted, and that actions are proportional.

Local 26 will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation that ensures due process for all parties, whenever management receives a complaint about sexual harassment, discrimination, threats of violence, inappropriate behavior, etc. or otherwise knows of possible sexual harassment occurring. Local 26 will keep the investigation confidential to the extent possible. We will not release the name of who filed the report without their permission. If the incident or behavior is tied to the jobsite, we will keep the Employer informed.

Employers have greater power to take immediate action. They can immediately remove some one from a job and permanently ban them from certain events or venues. This can include venue staff, vendors, and attendees. In fact, if the Employer fails to protect a stagehand we can consider taking action against the Employer.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, self-identified or perceived sex, gender expression, gender identity and the status of being transgender.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex when:

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, even if the reporting individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;
  • Such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting an individual’s employment.

A sexually harassing hostile work environment includes, but is not limited to, words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation, or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.

Sexual harassment also occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. This is also called quid pro quo harassment.

Example 1:

Tour Person offers these instructions: Get on your knees, pull down his pants, get him off as quick as possible. Don’t forget to give him a wet wipe so he can clean himself up as he walks away.

Sounds very inappropriate, yes? Now let’s look at the context. The instruction was being given to a dresser that had to help an actor with a quick change. The actor was wearing a prisoner’s outfit over the base of his next costume as a priest. The dresser would be removing the outer layer of pants while the actor changes their jacket for a priest’s vestments. The wet wipe was to remove the prison makeup.

There was no way for the carpenters that overheard the instructions to know what was going on and it is completely understandable they reported it to the Head Carp.

Example 2:

Stagehand A congratulates Stagehand B on news of new baby. Generally, it is a nice thing to do. Using the phrase “Hey, heard you knocked up that Ho you’ve been shacked up with.” Turns it into a very insulting and inappropriate comment.

Example 3:

Stagehand A is coiling cable when suddenly grabbed around the middle and hauled to the side by Stagehand B.

Was the grabbing appropriate or not? It depends on the reason for it. Was A about to be struck by a falling/rolling/safety hazard? Was A simply in the path of B and B felt it was easier to physically move them rather than ask? Did B explain why they put hands on A?

The motivation and perspectives would need to be discussed.

Depends. Are they commenting on whether you are dressed appropriately for the situation?  Could be a necessary awkward conversation.

Are they commenting on whether that think what you are wearing is attractive to them? Not necessary or welcome conversation that should be reported.

What is appropriate changes based on venue, event, job position, temperature, safety requirements, and many other factors.



CallSteward 3.0 Tutorial

Updated 4/5/24

Written by Jessica Westra (callsteward user since 2013)

Posted by Beth Snyder because technology is not always agreeable


The first thing to do is get yourself logged in. The identity system is based on email addresses. The email address you provided on your application for the referral list is used to create your profile. If you have not applied to the list, you cannot access the system. Please note this tutorial uses screen captures from a desktop web browser. Things will look different on a handheld device or app but the functions will be the same.

To access your account, go to and select “Get New Password”.  It will send you an email from with a link to set a new password. Please also tell your mail server that the email address it came from is not junk email.

If that does not work, chances are that your email is incorrectly listed at the office. We can fix that. Send an email to from the email address you want associated with your profile letting us know the issue. We can save your updated email address and send you a reset link from We CANNOT create a password for you.

Step 1:

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Getting angry doesn’t help.

Yes, this is the best option for a dispatch system we have.

Yes, it is being updated all the time.

No, we are not going back to notebooks with pencil and pen.

Step 2:

Log out of the program on all devices and browsers. Don’t just navigate away. Use the actual log out function.

Then close and reopen the browser.

Step 3:

Clear your cache. (that link shows current how to)

Clearing the cache and cookies from a web browser is an important first-step for almost any troubleshooting for internet browsing. The ‘cache’ is a tool used by your internet browser to speed up the page loading process. However, sometimes it can cause a problem when websites are updated and developed as files saved in the cache may conflict with what’s actually coded into the website. Clearing cache and cookies is a way we can be sure that any issues you may come across are actually something wrong with the website, rather than inconsistencies caused by using different browsers.

Step 4:

Ask for help. The call stewards may be able to help but sometimes we have no choice but to go to the site creator:

CallSteward App Support:

Apple CallStewardApp Link

It will teach you how to install, clear the cache, and reinstall the app on Apple devices.

Android CallSteward App Link

It will teach you how to install, clear the cache, and reinstall the app on Android devices.

When you have logged in, it will then open on your Schedule.

There is a crosshatch or three parallel horizontal line in the upper left corner. This will determine if you see just the icons or the icons and words on the side navigation pane. Generally, if you are full screen on a computer it will show the icons and words but if you are using a phone, it may be easier to just see the icons.

Unconfirmed calls will always appear at the top of the list on your Schedule. When you confirm an event, it will move down the list and appear in order of date. It will ask you to confirm your decision, so do not stress about hitting the wrong button. Declined calls will be recorded under the Declined section.

When you first get started, you will receive job offers as text messages. Our goal is to get everyone into the system so we can send SMS messages instead of hundreds of individual text messages.

Messages from cannot be directly responded to like text messages. You must either log into the site or contact 616-808-1892 with your response. If you reply to this as a text message, it will either disappear or be forwarded to the callsteward as an email without your name or what you are responding to attached. 

SMS Messages can be confusing for single day. For example, this arena call is listed as starting at 9am and ending at 2am because we don’t know when exactly you will be cut, who will be on show, and who will be brought back early. Most people will have a break between the load in and load out. We like to tell you when the load out will start. The system is inconsistent about whether that note comes before or after the job offer.

It is easier to see and understand your schedule in the system.

You cannot accept part of a job and turn down the rest without a discussion with the call steward. If the job spans more than one day, you may receive separate messages. The rule still holds. We need to follow the referral procedure, maintain consistency, and fill all the calls.

You can decide how you want to receive offers. If you’d prefer email offers, you can select it under Settings. This can be very helpful if you break your phone.

By default, the site will SMS (text) you job offers. You can choose email if you prefer it (or your phone is broken). This is completely your choice. Either way you have 12 hours to respond to a job offer that is more than 48 hours from the start time or deadline to fill. The first time the call steward sends you a message from CS3 it will be followed up by a text from the call steward phone 616-808-1892. Once we have confirmed you are getting the messages, we will only notify you from CS3. Please review the IATSE Local 26 Referral Procedure. Changes were made in 2021 regarding response time and several other things.

To see the address of where you are working, click the pin under Job Location. At this time, we cannot list rooms assignments and location details under Job Locations. DeVos Place has 26 meeting rooms, 4 Ballrooms, 3 Exhibit halls, multiple lobbies, a skywalk, and patios, there are too many combinations to create a venue listing for each one. For any event in the DeVos Place Convention Center we will list the room assignment in the Event Name. For Example: “Wolverine – Ballroom B” or “City Commission – RO A-F”.

Select the Event to see more information.

Comments will list onsite contacts, parking information, rally points, COVID protocols, and anything else we can tell you.

Employer Requests will continue to list show call, dress code, and special tools requests.

You can see what calls we know are coming up by checking the IA calendar on this site to see what we know is going to happen. We gather this from public calendars and try our best to keep up to date. We do not know how for certain the labor needs for a show until we get the labor request from an employer. Those requests are entered into callsteward’s calendar.

CallSteward’s Calendar shows the events we have received the labor requests for. We do not get to control how much notice employers give us nor when events will pop up with no notice.

You can select events to see more information about them.

View Calls will show you everyone else on the call you have been offered. Personal opinion, not my favorite layout. The relevant information is there. We have inquired about sorting options. There is a different view for Stewards that will be covered in a different tutorial.

We can set priority for skills so that they will always be listed in this order. This in NO WAY determines how a call is filled. It is simply how the positions are listed.

  1. Heads
  2. Specialized Skills (A2, Riggers, Fly, Matrix, etc.)
  3. Wardrobe
  4. Show call Positions (Deck, Followspot, Houselights, etc.)
  5. Licensed Skills (Fork, Scissor, etc.)
  6. Hands (Carp, Elex, etc.)
  7. Other (Production, Replaced, etc.)

It’s a work in progress and may rearrange or add tiers. Anyone who has been in this industry for more than five minutes knows that the most vital role changes from show to show and sometimes throughout the course of a show. We will not participate in any arguments that one department is always more important than another department.

You can check to see how many people are required for a call, how many people are confirmed to work the call, and how many open positions there are. If the system shows you as available (not on vacation or recurring unavailability), we will offer you any work that gets to you as we work our way down the referral list.


Confirmed – the worker has accepted the job offer and committed to be there.

Unconfirmed – the worker has not accepted the job offer yet.

Marked – the worker was sent a text message from the call steward phone.

Notified – the worker has been sent a message from

Your Profile should be reviewed. If any of your contact information is incorrect, please change it and NOTIFY THE OFFICE! We like to make sure you are getting your paychecks and mailings. If you are a member, you MUST notify the Secretary-Treasurer with any new contact information as the most current on file is where official communications are sent. Select Edit Profile to make changes.

If you change your phone number, send a message to the callsteward 616-808-1892 or you may not receive direct messages. We are not notified when you change your information in callsteward. The call steward frequently has to send direct messages from a cell phone that does not automatically sync with callsteward.

Remember that your login is tied to your email address. If you have issues with changing it, our office can help.

Pay attention to the red text. If you want to receive text messages your cell phone number MUST include the area code. ALWAYS use the SAVE button after making changes!

You can change your password. We cannot. The best we can do is send you a reset link. If that does not work, we will have to turn the issue over to the support tech. They are happy to help and can fix issues we cannot.

You do not have permission to change your own skills. If we know you have a skill, we put it on your profile. Call stewards are allowed to give the following basic skill checks: Audio, Carpenter, Electrician, Hand, Loader, Projection, Prop, Pusher, Replaced, and Student. Everything else must be approved by the Business Agent. Some may require proof of certification (Fork, CDL, etc.) or a skill evaluation (Weight Loading, Board Op, etc.). If you have skills that we are unaware of please reach out to the Business Agent.

New Referents please note that “Orientation Complete” is a listed skill. That way the office knows they can move you as soon as you have the appropriate paperwork and Probation Evaluations.

Side Note: The Probation Evaluations can be filled out online:

There are things we track at skills that are options for you:

Travels Jurisdiction – you can choose if you want to be offered work outside of our geographical jurisdiction. This includes the other side of the state and other states.

Opt out 65+ – Due to the physical size of the jurisdiction of Local 26, referents may opt out, in writing, of work locations that are over 65 miles from their home. Opting out includes all work classifications performed at these locations. Referents may only change their opt out preferences once in any rolling three (3) month period.

VAA Changeover – you can choose if you want to be offered this work. Flipping the Van Andel from concert set up to sporting events, setting stages, setting dashers and hockey glass, chairs, and some clean up around the performance areas.

COVID 19 Vaccinated – you can choose to disclose your vaccination status. Some shows/venues require vaccinated employees, some do not. You may keep that information private but we will have to treat you as unvaccinated. Please inform us if you are vaccinated, not vaccinated, or choose to keep that information private.

PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Update your availability. If you have a regular schedule at another job or are in school, enter the hours here. We will not offer you work that conflicts with it, only jobs you are available to work.

Keep in mind travel time. If you are leaving one job at 5pm, you can’t start the next at 5pm.

Load outs frequently go past midnight. If you want the Monday arena call, don’t block yourself by starting a vacation at 12am on Tuesday.

ALWAYS use the SAVE button after making changes!

You can decide if you prefer a 12 or 24-hour clock. It will not affect how anyone else sees it.


By default, the site will SMS (text) you job offers. You can choose email if you prefer it (or your phone is broken). This is completely your choice. Either way you have 12 hours to respond to a job offer that is more than 48 hours from the start time or deadline to fill. The first time the call steward sends you a message from CS3 it will be followed up by a text from the call steward phone 616-808-1892. Once we have confirmed you are getting the messages, we will only notify you from CS3. Please review the IATSE Local 26 Referral Procedure. Changes were made in 2021 regarding response time and several other things.

Note from Beth: If you cannot open the link to the Referral Procedure, you do not have an account for the IA26 website. Please scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Request Account”. We will approve you for a login as soon as possible. Logins are available to all members and referents who have worked at least one call.

Reach out if you are having trouble maneuvering the site.  This is new for all of us.

From Beth: You should be used to seeing this, and it still holds true… Be safe. Be well. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Health Insurance 101: Part Two


In this installment, we’re going to concentrate on who you should call for what kind of help. Your health insurance company is an invaluable resource, but they can’t help you with everything. Knowing when to call them, when to call the National Benefit Fund, and when to call your doctor will save everyone time and frustration.

Things you should call your health insurance company about:

  • Questions on medical benefits
  • Questions about claims
  • If you acquire another health insurance policy that will be primary to the one you have through the IA
  • Whether or not a certain procedure is covered (always get a procedure code from your doctor!)
  • Whether or not a prior authorization has been received and/or approved for a procedure such as an MRI
  • If a certain provider is participating in network
  • If you receive an Explanation of Benefits for a medical procedure you do not remember having

Things you should call the National Benefit Fund about:

  • Adding/deleting someone to or from your policy
  • Questions about premium payments or to make a premium payment
  • What benefits are offered and how much they will cost you
  • When you become eligible for health insurance
  • When you are allowed to make changes to your policy

Things you should call your doctor (or a hospital) about:

  • Anything to do with medical billing, paying medical bills, or making payment arrangements
  • Why certain tests were ordered or performed
  • If you need refills on your medications
  • Making appointments for medical services


It’s important to know that your insurance company has no way to see how much if anything you have paid toward a medical bill. All they can see is what your responsibility as a member will be for any given claim. When you receive an Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company, it is not a bill. It is simply a statement detailing how much the provider charges without insurance, how much the negotiated discount for those who do have insurance is, how much (if anything) the insurance company paid the provider, and how much (if anything) you as the patient are responsible for paying.

For example: You see your doctor because you hit your thumb with a hammer. The doctor charges $200 for that office visit if you don’t have insurance. Because you do have insurance, the negotiated rate (which the doctor is required to accept as payment in full) is $150. Under your policy, you have a deductible and coinsurance as we discussed in the first installment of this series. Let’s say you’ve met your deductible already, so you’re paying 20% coinsurance. You are responsible for paying the doctor 20% of $150, or $30. The insurance company pays the remaining $120 to the doctor.

If you paid the doctor $30 at the time of the office visit, your insurance company does not know that. So you will receive an EOB stating your member liability is $30. Since you already paid that, great! File the EOB and go on with your life. But if you paid nothing at the time of service, this is your heads up you will be receiving a bill from the doctor soon.

If you are going to call your insurance company about a claim you see on an EOB, make sure you know the date of service! The statement date on the EOB is sort of helpful, but the customer service representative on the phone must look up claims by date of service. The first page of your EOB is a summary. The following pages are details of each claim that has processed since your last statement. Go to those details for the information your insurance company needs to help you.

You should also be aware that providers may bill you on a monthly basis, but they submit claims to the insurance company by date of service for the most part. So you may be looking at a bill that says you owe $174.38, but your insurance company has three claims for three different dates of service that together add up to that total amount. They also cannot see the bill you were sent, as that is purely between you and your provider.

The I.A.T.S.E. National Benefit Funds are the organization that oversees your health insurance policy among other things. They are who put together the packages from which you may choose your level of coverage. They are who informs the insurance company what package you’ve chosen and how many people are on your policy along with their personal information. They are who you must contact to change your address, to add a new person to your policy, to remove a person from your policy, and to pay your insurance premium.

Anything to do with your policy itself must be addressed with the NBF. There is a link to their website at the bottom of every page of this website.

Each of our employers pay a percentage on top of your gross wages into the Benefit Funds according to their collective bargaining agreement, or in the case of those who use an outside payroll company such as UTP, the payroll company contributes through its agreement with the Funds. When it comes time to pay your quarterly premium, the NBF sends you a statement detailing how much money has been contributed on your behalf and how much (if any) you will need to pay for the premium cost at your chosen level of insurance coverage.

Your insurance company itself has nothing whatsoever to do with what benefit packages are available to you, how much they cost, or what is covered under them. Think of it like this: When you go grocery shopping for your family, the grocery store offers a wide variety of options. You choose food for your family from what is available, pay the price the store charges, and feed your family. It’s up to you if you charge anyone for that food or not, or how much you will charge. Same thing when the NBF (or any employer) shops at the insurance company.

One last thing for this installment… coverage options.

National Health Care Reform says all health insurance policies offered by employers must have a basic minimum level of coverage. Anything more than that is up to the employer (in our case, the NBF) to offer and decide how much it will cost. A basic health insurance policy will have professional (doctors) and facility (hospitals). From there, pharmacy (prescription), dental, vision, hearing, and a variety of other options can be added, most often at additional cost.

Some employers choose to have all forms of coverage through a single insurance company. Others choose different companies for different types of insurance. And even if a health insurance company handles all the types of insurance on your policy, they often have benefit managers for specific items.

For example, with our policies. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield carries our professional and facility insurance. CVS/Caremark has our pharmacy coverage. I’m a little fuzzy on the names for our vision and dental coverage because I never had them, but I know they are through other companies as well.

Where I have my current insurance, my professional, facility, pharmacy, dental, and vision insurance are all covered under the same insurance company’s umbrella and I use the same card for each of them, but there are benefit managers for the different types. So while my prescription coverage is through my health insurance (Company A) the actual benefit is managed by Company B. Likewise my dental is managed by Company C, and my vision by Company D. If your employer, as the NBF has, chooses to use different insurance companies for the various types, you may have several different insurance cards (for example, the CVS/Caremark card for prescriptions).

It can be confusing, but the good news is if you’re not sure who exactly has your coverage for a certain category you can call the NBF to find out. Your health insurance company may or may not know, so it’s best to check with the NBF to save time and phone calls.

Health Insurance 101


What is health insurance?

It seems like this is a silly question, but it’s really not. Health insurance is something everyone should have, many people need, and not everyone has access to. It’s a contract typically between an employer and an insurance company under which employees can have various medical procedures paid in part by the insurance company in exchange for paying a set amount for the policy.

Clear as mud, right? Let’s try to make that easier. We are going to concentrate on employer policies in this series since that is where the workers of Local 26 get their insurance, although there are certainly individually purchased policies as well.

Insurance companies offer a wide variety of options to employers to choose when putting together a benefit package for their employees. Depending on what choices the employer makes, those options are bundled into policies employees can choose during open enrollment or after a significant life event (birth, death, adoption, marriage, etc.). The insurance company does not tell the employer which options they may choose; all options are on the table. It just depends on how much an employer is willing to offer (and of course how much they are willing to pay) for those options.

Once an employer chooses which benefit package(s) they are going to offer their employees, the employee is given a list of those packages from which to choose. Some include nothing but medical (both doctors and facilities), some also add prescription, vision, dental, and/or hearing coverage. Usually adding more options to a policy costs more for the employee. The employer determines how much each employee will pay for their insurance premium and how much the employer is willing to pay on the employee’s behalf. Under union-negotiated collective bargaining agreements, usually those amounts are a large part of negotiations in addition to wages and working conditions.

Premiums can be either entirely employer contributed (as is the case with most of Local 26’s agreements) or partially paid by employees either through payroll deduction or direct payment. Sometimes it’s a combination of both such as when employer contributions do not equal the price of a premium, as often happens with stagehands.

Many factors go into determining how much your health insurance premium will be. Not all factors affect all premiums, especially in union-negotiated contracts. But certainly state and federal laws, what type of insurance, employer size, state and county of residence, and plan type are factors. As all prices change depending on those factors, so too does the cost of insurance.

Another factor is often what deductible a policy carries. High deductible policies tend to carry much lower premiums. This is because the employee takes the risk that they will not end up needing to use their health insurance for much so they pay less for the policy in exchange for having to pay more medical expenses out of pocket. On the flip side, policies with a high premium typically have a lower deductible. These policies are good for those who know they will have considerable medical expense and won’t be able to afford much up front.

It’s important to note the employer also determines what packages they offer will charge for a deductible. They also choose how much of a percentage in coinsurance an employee pays, and how much their out of pocket maximum will be per year.

I’m throwing too many phrases out there that many folks don’t understand. Let me put this simply:

Premium = how much it costs for your insurance policy.

Deductible = how much you pay for medical expenses up front before your health insurance starts paying anything.

Coinsurance = the percentage split between your responsibility and what the insurance company pays.

Out of Pocket Maximum = The highest amount you will pay for medical expenses in a calendar year, after which your insurance company pays everything.

Those are very simplified and of course there are factors that affect them as well, but they are the basic definitions.

For example: Sally Smith has an insurance policy, and their premium is $1300 per quarter. That is how much Sally must pay (or their employer must contribute) in order for them to have insurance coverage every three months.

Sally’s deductible is $1000, meaning the first $1000 of any medical services Sally receives must be paid by them entirely with no help from their insurance.

Once that deductible is met, Sally’s policy becomes 80/20. This means Sally’s insurance company pays 80% of medical expenses and Sally is responsible for 20%.

Sally’s out of pocket maximum is $3000. This means Sally continues to pay 20% of all medical expenses until they have paid a total of $3000 for all medical services received that year. Once that out of pocket maximum is met, Sally’s insurance company pays 100% of medical services until January 1st of the next year. On January 1st, all those numbers are reset to zero and Sally must once again meet the deductible before insurance starts paying, and so on.

Another term you need to know is Copay. A copay is a set amount of money for specific services. For example, a doctor’s office visit carries a $30 copay. Copays are entirely your responsibility until you reach your out of pocket maximum for the year and are not figured into deductible or coinsurance. So in our Sally example above, Sally will pay a $30 copay for each doctor’s visit they have until they meet their out of pocket maximum.

While copays do not contribute to deductible or coinsurance, they DO contribute to out of pocket maximum in most cases. So it’s entirely possible Sally will not have to pay 20% of ALL medical services if they have numerous copays that contribute to their out of pocket maximum.

Altogether, the deductible, coinsurance, copays, and out of pocket maximum are called Cost Share. Simple way to think of it: Cost Share is the amount an employee is responsible for paying for their medical services.


Another important thing to know is the difference between In Network providers and Out of Network providers. In Network providers (doctors, facilities, etc.) have agreed to accept an insurance company’s negotiated discount as full payment for their services. Out of Network providers are under no obligation to accept the lesser amount as full payment.

For example: Sally goes to an in network doctor. That doctor charges $350 for the services performed, but Sally’s insurance company has negotiated with the doctor for a maximum payment of $175. The most that doctor can legally be paid for those services is $175, and they cannot bill anyone for the remaining $175.

If, however, Sally went to an out of network doctor, the rules change. The doctor will still charge $350 for the services, and Sally’s insurance will still allow a maximum payment of $175. That stays the same. But the doctor can then bill Sally for the remaining $175 and they will be responsible for paying it.

This is the difference between Charged Amount and Allowed Amount.

Charged Amount = what a provider charges for a medical service.

Allowed Amount = what an insurance company is willing to pay for that service.

In network providers must accept the allowed amount as full payment. Out of network (also known as non-participating) providers can balance bill (also known as surprise bill) the patient for the remainder.

It is always best to go to in network providers whenever possible. You will be guaranteed the best available rates that way with no surprise bills later. A person’s cost share is figured on the insurance company’s allowed amounts for services. There are typically higher dollar amounts for deductible and a higher percentage of coinsurance out of network as well.

Using our Sally example, their in-network deductible is $1000, but their out of network deductible could be $2500. Their in-network coinsurance is 80/20, but their out of network coinsurance could be 60/40. And their out of pocket maximum could be anything including not having a maximum at all out of network.

The last thing I want to touch on today is the information you should have available when contacting your health insurance company about benefits or claims.

ALWAYS have your insurance card with you when you call! Under very stringent federal and other privacy laws (I’m sure you’ve heard of HIPAA), they must verify who they are speaking with to determine how much, if any, information can be given. They are absolutely not allowed to discuss more than general information with anyone unless you give your express permission, even your spouse. Some aspects of your medical treatment (sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy-related services, mental health and substance abuse treatment to name the most common) they are not allowed to discuss with anyone but you period. You can give your permission to discuss those things, but it will have to be done on each phone call.

They will need your subscriber ID (sometimes called an enrollee ID), full name, birth date, address and/or ZIP code, and a phone number where you can be reached. If you are calling about someone else on your policy, they will need their full name and birthdate as well. They need this before they can even see your policy to answer questions. Conveniently, the number you need to call to ask questions is located on your card, so you’ll probably have it out anyway.

Depending on what you’re asking, they will need further information, but I’ll get into that in future posts in this series. The goal is not to overwhelm anyone with information, but to make it easier to understand health insurance!

I.A.T.S.E. Local 26 Support Group

Local 26 understands the last 18 or so months have been hard on everyone, and we want you to know we will do everything we can to help those who need it. We’ve been able to do some pretty darn great things with the help of our friends at the Kent-Ionia Labor Council, West Michigan United Way, and several other unions in the area (unfortunately I do not remember which ones, for which I apologize and would be happy to insert their names if someone else remembers). We’ve kept the lights on, the Local going, and with the help of the International have covered per capitas for members for several quarters so no one’s membership lapses due to lack of income.

We’ve also tried to help with your mental health, because that is just as important as anything else. I’ve written several blog posts with ideas for coping strategies and resources for you to use when you need them. If you haven’t yet, please read the following:

Need Some Help Managing Your Stress and/or Depression?

Stress, Mental Health, Harassment, & Bullying Hazard Awareness Resources (continuously updated)

BTS Launches New Peer-to-Peer Chat App “Be Scene – Be Heard”


In May, I was able to take the Mental Health First Aid course through Behind the Scenes and certified as an Adult Mental Health First Aider. The class was hard, I’m not going to lie. It was a lot of work both on my own and in an online classroom setting, and some of the topics were incredibly uncomfortable. Aside from my own mental health issues (and I freely admit I have them) I’ve known, as have many of you, those who needed help but didn’t get it. Those who needed help but didn’t think they did. Those who none of us knew needed help until it was too late.

Those are extreme examples. They happen, but in a small percentage of people. The goal here is to help each other so things don’t get to that point.

Mental health issues do not automatically mean there is something wrong with you, not in the way most people see it. The stigma of admitting you need help is so ingrained in our society it infuriates me. If you broke your arm, would anyone think poorly of you if you saw a doctor to have it set properly in a cast to heal? Of course not. Why, then, do so many people look at a mental health challenge as something to be ashamed of? It’s not any more shameful than having allergies, or diabetes, or kidney stones. These things happen, and they happen to everyone regardless of social or economic status, race, religion, gender identity, living situation, or any other category by which you can classify a human being. Mental health is part of all of us, and sometimes that part of our overall health needs work. No big deal!

You know what IS a big deal? Ignoring it. Thinking if you just tough it out it’ll be fine. Feeling ashamed you need help. Keeping your problems to yourself because you think others have it worse than you so you shouldn’t complain. That last one pushes all my buttons. You are entitled to help no matter who else is struggling!

The idea here is to start small. Don’t want to jump into therapy? Great! Not everyone is ready, not everyone can afford it… There are dozens of legitimate reasons, and one of them is “I’m afraid”. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re afraid. You don’t even have to admit it to yourself. But it’s legit.

Starting small. That’s the point. That’s why I wanted to start a support group for Local 26. Not just members. Everyone. Because everyone needs someone to talk to who gets it. We all get it. We all walked out of our last theatre/arena/convention center/meeting room/whatever in March 2020 with no idea it would be this long before we started coming back. There’s still a long way to go even though work is picking up. And things are different. They’ll continue to be different probably forever.

The support group is just that. A judgement-free place where you can talk to people who know where you’re coming from. Maybe we don’t have any more solutions than you do. But maybe we do! If nothing else, it gets you out of the house for a little while and lets you see people you used to work next to regularly but haven’t talked to in well over a year.

It’s not therapy. It doesn’t diagnose any mental illness. It says, “Hey you! Yeah, you. You’re not alone. We’re all floundering. Let’s talk about it! Maybe we can figure something out that’ll help all of us.”

There are rules. First, most important, and for which there is a zero tolerance policy: WHAT IS SAID IN THE GROUP STAYS IN THE GROUP. If you talk about something someone else said without their permission, you’re out. End of story.

The rest of the rules are pretty common sense as far as support groups go:

  • We can discuss anything and some rough language (swearing/cussing) may be used. While this is not a church group, we will expect everyone to be respectful towards others, even if they have a differing opinion. No abuse, shaming, or bullying will be tolerated. This is supposed to be a safe place and we will keep it that way. NO politics or religion please. Let it not divide us.
  • Group members do not tell people outside of the group who attends the group.
  • Everyone gets a chance to talk who wants to. If necessary, someone may be told to hold their thought to allow someone else a chance to speak.
  • If you don’t feel like talking, don’t! Sometimes just listening to other people talk about having the same struggles you’re having helps.
  • Judging, criticizing, teasing or “put-downs” is not allowed. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. You can’t help what you think, but you can help what you say.
  • Group members give other group members feedback only when it is requested. If someone just wants to vent, great! Blowing off steam is one of the best ways to relieve stress and can help you see your own way clear.
  • When in the group, everyone is equal. No one is more important than anyone else because of a position they may hold at work or anywhere else. The newest referent shares equal footing with the oldest member and everyone in between.

That’s it! It’s possible there could be more later as need arises, or wording could change. But the general overview is don’t suck. If you suck, it defeats the entire purpose. Plus, you’d suck. And no one wants to suck.

For those who might be concerned about things they may share within the group somehow coming back to affect their offers for work, please be aware that Josh Roskamp (Business Agent, Local 26) and Jess Westra (President, Local 26) have said they will not be part of it. Not because they don’t want to or because they think it’s a bad idea, but because they don’t want anyone to avoid taking part because of their presence.

As you see in the graphic above, there is a completely separate email address for those who wish to take part in the group ( . That was done purposely to keep it separate from anything to do with the Local 26 office. While I will be leading the group, when I am there I am not a representative of the Executive Board or the office despite my positions there. I am simply the group facilitator while we meet.

To end on a personal note: If you need someone to talk to immediately, please reach out! Doesn’t have to be to me, although I will do my best to make time to talk to you if you do. But talk to someone. Friend, family member, religious figure, therapist, whoever will listen! I cannot express enough how much it helps to talk to someone. And if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a particular person for any reason, don’t! Not all personalities work well together. If you have a problem with another group member, please let me know and we’ll work out a solution. If you have a problem with me we’ll work that out, too.

We are all in this together, but we are all at different places mentally, financially, and physically. Please don’t feel you are alone, and please don’t feel you just need to “tough it out”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… THERE IS NO SHAME IN NEEDING HELP. Don’t try to go it alone; there’s no need. Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I’d like to see all of you when we are finally back to work!


April: A Month of Troublemaking

If you’re not familiar with Labor Notes, now is a good time for it! They’re an amazing resource for union leaders, members, and those curious about how unions work and why they are important. From their website:

Labor Notes is a media and organizing project that has been the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement since 1979.

Through our magazine, website, books, conferences, and workshops, we promote organizing, aggressive strategies to fight concessions, alliances with worker centers, and unions that are run by their members.

During the month of April Labor Notes is offering a series of workshops held via Zoom for the incredibly low price of $20.00! Additionally, they are offering 50% off a year’s subscription to Labor Notes magazine and even further reduced registration for those in need. They aren’t turning anyone away from educating themselves for lack of funds.

Unfortunately I did not get to this early enough to catch the first workshop, but you can get it on the rest of the month by registering now. Below is a list of the workshops they’re offering with a brief description of each.

Webinars and Unlimited-Participation Workshops
(these workshops have no attendance caps):

Building a Caucus and Transforming Your Union (Thursday April 15: 7 PM EDT)
Drawing on the example of CORE in transforming the Chicago Teachers Union, teachers, health care workers, postal workers, and more are building caucuses to push for more fighting unions. How can caucus work build a more democratic, rank-and-file union and grow our power? How do caucuses start? What are some of the pitfalls to be aware of? Panelists: Shira Cohen, Working Educators Caucus, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Andrew Solar-Greco and Rhiannon Maton, Member Action Coalition, United University Professors, State University of New York (SUNY); Patrick Weisansal II, Communications Workers Local 1168; Ryan Gray and Jamie Partridge, Portland Caucus of Rank-and-File Carriers, National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 82.

Direct Action Organizing for Health Care Workers (Sunday April 18: 8PM EDT)
COVID-19 exposed to the public what health care unions had been saying for years: the system is broken! Staffing shortages, lack of PPE, furloughs, and unclear policies meant that nurses, techs, nursing assistants, and support staff in all departments bore the brunt of the pandemic while health care corporations made record profits. This event will feature different stories of workplace organizing and direct action against the boss to build power for essential health workers.

Past Practice Grievances with Robert Schwartz (Monday April 19: 7 PM EDT)
Past practice is one of the most frequently cited concepts in labor relations. In this workshop, retired union attorney Robert M. Schwartz, author of How to Win Past Practice Grievances, will discuss the subject in a straightforward manner, identifying the five elements of a bonafide past practice and when a practice has, and does not have, contractual status.

Austerity: The Myth and How to Fight It (Date and time TBA)
The Covid-19 pandemic, while unique, has created a familiar crisis in the form of shrinking tax revenues and demands for concessions from workers. In this panel, we’ll hear about how austerity is a political choice—not a material necessity—as well as how some unions are fighting back against austerity-driven concessions. Panelists TBA.

Organizing at Amazon: Lessons Learned and the Work Ahead (Saturday April 24: 4 PM EDT)
Amazon is now the second-largest employer in the U.S., and a presence everywhere in the lives of Americans, reshaping the retail and logistics landscape. This panel will provide an overview of the company’s operations and growth and the threat it poses to members of the Teamsters, postal unions, UFCW, ILWU, and other unions, as well as working conditions generally. We’ll hear from workers on what it’s like to work at Amazon, and about organizing in the company’s warehouses, including a report on the union drive in Bessemer, Alabama. Moderator: Maximillian Alvarez, Editor-in-Chief of The Real News Network and host of Working People podcast. Panelists: Spencer Cox, Amazon researcher, PhD student, University of Minnesota, Lauren Kaori Gurley, senior staff writer at Motherboard, VICE’s tech site, and a representative from Amazonians United NYC.

Labor and Climate Change Solutions (Sunday April 25: 5 PM EDT)
In the past few years, the gravity of the climate crisis has become ever more clear even as policymakers and corporations refuse to act. At the grassroots level, labor has become increasingly active in finding a solution, but much remains to be done. What are local union activists doing to build a more sustainable workplace and world, and how can rising union activism connect with the global struggle to stop catastrophic climate change? Panelists TBA.

National Educators Call: Assessing and Building Power in the Pandemic and Beyond. (Tuesday April 27: 8 PM EDT)
What have we learned? What are our next struggles? Join preK-12 educators from across the country to identify the struggles ahead and discuss how to use lessons learned from the pandemic going forward.

How to Defend Your Co-workers in Disciplinary Meetings (Thursday April 29: 6 PM EDT)
Stewards are the backbone of every union, defending their co-workers when they are needed most. In this workshop we will review how stewards can use their special rights and protections to effectively advocate for their coworkers in investigatory interviews. We will also discuss how to handle supervisors who are trying to put you off or trip you up. Facilitators: Chris Brooks and Stefanie Frey, NewsGuild of New York

Beating Apathy
Are you beating your head against the wall trying to get other workers involved? This workshop is for you. Hear success stories from those who’ve turned their workplaces around and turned apathy into action. Learn practical organizing tools for engaging your co-workers, taking action, and getting results.

Assembling Your Dream Team
Your workplace may feel like an unorganized mess, but the truth is you’re not starting from zero. There’s organization there already—though it might have nothing to do with the union. Learn how to map out the existing networks in your workplace, identify the leaders in those networks, and then knit them together into an organizing committee.

Turning an Issue into a Campaign
Everybody has complaints and frustrations, but an organizer has the power to turn problems into opportunities. Learn how to sort through the issues you hear from co-workers, bring people together, and make a plan to solve them.

Skills and Limited-Participation Workshops
(these workshops have attendance caps):

Secrets of a Successful Organizer Parts 1, 2 and 3 – a series of nuts-and-bolts organizing trainings based on our book, Secrets of a Successful Organizer:

  1. Beating Apathy:
    • Saturday April 3 (12-2 PM EDT)
    • CLOSED – Wednesday April 7 (7-9 PM EDT)
  2. Assembling Your Dream Team:
    • Saturday April 10 (12-2PM EDT)
    • CLOSED – Wednesday April 14 (7-9 PM EDT)
  3. Turning an Issue Into a Campaign:
    • Saturday April 17 (12-2 PM EDT)
    • CLOSED – Wednesday April 21 (7-9 PM EDT)

If you have any interest in any (or all, since they’re all included in the price), you can find details and the registration form here: April Month of Troublemaking

More educational opportunity!

Related, yet a separate thing from a different organization, Labor’s Bookstore is offering 50% off all their previously read books. They are closing down the used books section of their store/website May 1st so they can “focus on even more new and exciting titles”.

From their website:

Labor’s Bookstore has its roots in the former Union Communication Services (UCS), founded by David Prosten. Here at Labor’s Bookstore we are proud to publish many of the titles formerly carried by UCS.  Additionally, we offer a wide variety of previously-read books at very affordable prices.

Labor’s Bookstore aims to provide union leaders and other activists with resources that will better enable them to serve their members and communities.

Check out the selection here to add titles to your personal collection.

One more thing. You know what it is, it’s what I do… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME OR MASK UP even if you’ve been vaccinated. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Women Making History: An IATSE Local 26 Timeline

For Women’s History Month let’s look, frankly not that far, back into the history of IATSE Local 26. Celebrate the women that were responsible for breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations. We are one of the most long-lived with a National Alliance charter signed November 15, 1894. Our International Charter was signed on July 24, 1902, after IATSE welcomed Canadian Locals into the Alliance. For a time, we were known as Local 291, with an International charter signed on July 10, 1913, before going back to our original Local No. 26. Over the years we merged with other Locals, including Local 188 out of Kalamazoo.

Whether you choose our original 1894 National Charter or the International Charter in 1913, we are looking at 86 to 67 years with an entirely male membership. Barely more than 40 years ago, that barrier was shattered by Mary Sides of Local 188 and Karen Kuiper of Local 26.

Carolyn Schneider is known for being the first woman elected to Local 26’s Executive Board when she became Recording Secretary. What many do not realize is that, at that time, this was a non-voting position. Does that lessen her achievement? Absolutely not. She was in the room where decisions were being made. She may not have been able to voice a vote, but she was able to voice a perspective. Sadly, we returned to a completely male Executive Board for several years after Carolyn left office.

It was not until 2001 that our own Beth Snyder was elected Recording Secretary. It was still a non-voting position in the Local. In 2005, Beth was the first woman to represent us at the meeting of the highest legislative and judicial body in the IATSE at the Quadrennial Convention. Shortly thereafter, a Local 26 Constitutional amendment was passed giving the Recording Secretary the vote, so she became the first woman allowed to vote on Executive Board motions.

2006 was the beginning of a new era. Stasia Savage became the first woman to serve as Business Agent for IATSE Local 26.  The BA oversees all members and referents, as well as day-to-day operations of the Local and its office. She represents the Local in all dealings with employers, provides employers with labor through the Local’s Referral program, and maintains a list of all work assigned. She also serves as Delegate to the International Convention and Michigan Alliance, Eighth District, and the AFL-CIO. It is the most influential and powerful position in the Local.

Stasia led the Local to organize Miller Auditorium, the Grand Rapids Ballet, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the summer concert series at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The last of which was organized after Michigan became a Right to Work (for less) state. In 2008-2012 the movie business was busy in Michigan and Local 26 proved that there is more to MI than Detroit when it comes to movies.  And that just because we are a small local doesn’t mean you can push us around.  We stopped local 38 from taking the film jurisdiction for the entire state. Thanks to that income we were able to purchase our office building in 2008 and pay it off in two years. Though some opposed it at the time, it has been a great asset. Beyond the membership meetings, we have hosted numerous training classes, committee meetings, political action sign making events, and numerous other activities to build up the union.

Rose Sturgis became the first woman to serve as 2nd Vice President. She reported directly to the President. At the time the 2nd Vice President specifically focused on Wardrobe issues. Her duties included investigating all complaints of members and deciding, if possible, upon all questions between the employers and employees. Vice Presidents also act as part of the Trial Board of the Local. Rose went on to faithfully represent us for a total of four terms as 2nd Vice President.

For the first time three women were elected to the Executive Board of Local 26 at the same time. Together these ladies were able to move the union forward as a more inclusive and transparent organization. Women were starting to recognize the possibilities for success in our Local. They inspired many women to join the union. Clearly the membership recognized we were on the right path. Three years later, the 2009 election found us again with Stasia as Business Agent, Rose as 2nd Vice President, and Beth as Recording Secretary. After the 2012 election, Stasia remained in office as Business Agent and Rose as 2nd Vice President.

2015 brought the total of women elected to office to four:  Jessica Westra as Recording Secretary, Rose as 2nd VP, Stasia as BA, and Jessi Nix-Gould as a Trustee. The Local was growing by leaps and bounds. The old paper notebook and pen system we used for filling calls was finally retired and we began using It dramatically increased the transparency surrounding how we filled calls and made tracking schedules, contact information, and skills much more efficient and easier. As soon as a Labor Request was received, it was entered and visible to the members and referents. People could make plans and arrange carpools. Department Heads knew who was on their crew before they showed up for work. We were modernizing and improving.

In 2017, Beth was tasked with redesigning the Local 26 website. She worked with the developer to create our first fully functioning website, giving members and referents access to important documents such as our contracts, referral procedure, venue information and forms and making them now available at all times. Members can review meeting minutes going back multiple years. The site also provides a professional presentation to the public. She continues to oversee content and ensures information is up to date.

June 4th, 2017 at Frederik Meijer Gardens saw an entire female Local crew for Replay America. Head Carpenter Megan Claypool (Second generation Local 26 member, second from the right) led the crew through every step of the process of setting up a live show. Jess Westra was call steward at the time. One dinosaur actually asked her who was going to do the heavy lifting. The answer, as always, was simple: the women. In every department from Electrics to Audio to Rigging, we have women working and succeeding. Don’t take our word for it! The vendor was asked that day how things went. The response: “Today was a breeze, can we have them all back next time?”

In 2015, Jessi Nix-Gould was elected the first woman Trustee of Local 26. Trustees are charged with ensuring any officer or employee of the Local who handles funds and/or property is bonded as required by law. They are also responsible for auditing the books of the Local every six months and ensure all books and records of the Local are preserved for at least five years.

That is a dry description. Trustees keep us honest. They are the ones that make sure union funds are spent on union business, union training, and union causes. Jessi took this job seriously. She completed the inaugural session of IATSE’s Officers Institute Local Trustee Training and brought that knowledge back to our Local.

Stasia made history again by becoming the first woman to serve as President of IATSE Local 26.  The President presides over all meetings of the membership and Executive Board, works with the BA to set an agenda for each meeting that addresses the short and long-term goals of the union, appoints all Committees and their Chairperson, and enforces the Local’s rules, wage scales, and conditions. As President she served as Delegate to the International Convention, the Michigan Alliance, the Eighth District, and the AFL-CIO. Under Stasia’s leadership Local 26 added several standing committees, including Political Action and Diversity.

We were not a large Local, but we were definitely on a successful path. In 2006 we did $2.6 million in payroll. By the end of 2019 we had done $4.3 million in payroll.

After 12 years of successfully managing the Local as BA, we were fortunate that Stasia also used her time as President to help our next Business Agents find their footing. She has now moved on to be an International Representative for IATSE out the New York offices. She continues to inspire and mentor the next generation of leaders in Local 26.

2018 was the second time four women were elected to the Board: Stasia became the first woman President, Jess Westra the first woman 1st VP, Beth returned as Recording Secretary, and Jessi Nix-Gould remained a Trustee. While Jess Westra was Co-Chair of the Education and Safety Committee the hours spent on training between 2017 and 2019 tripled! She personally taught many safety courses, steward trainings, and new referent orientations. She also co-created courses on Knots, Weight Loading, Wardrobe, and more. She expanded the Local’s social media presence to use it as a tool for education, activism, and engagement.

Jess has been instrumental in changing new contracts and working agreements to more inclusive gender-neutral language from the male-dominated language of the past, as well as the Local’s Constitution and By-Laws, Referral Procedure, and other formal documents. She is also spearheading the addition of protections for working parents and caregivers to our agreements.

Which brings us to the present. In the 2020 election Jess Westra became President, Lindsey Katerberg joined the Board as 1st VP, and Beth remains Recording Secretary. Additionally, Jess Westra is currently working as the first female Head Video on house staff at DeVos Place.

Lindsey Katerberg may singlehandedly bring a film tax credit to Michigan. She now sits on the board of MIFiA (Michigan Film Industry Association). She has led multiple events to push for the HEROES Act, extending unemployment, and ensuring our legislators do not forget or ignore the entertainment industry. Lindsey has been interviewed multiple times by both local and national news outlets and maintains a relationship with politicians from Local to National.

Local 26 now has a dozen collective bargaining agreements and a multitude of rate sheets for ongoing work that we do across the jurisdiction.  We have good relationships with all our employers and in the community.  We are a respected local in Michigan, across the country and within the International for our ongoing accomplishments, activism, progressive attitude, and participation. It’s not uncommon for women to equal or sometimes outnumber men on a call, and calls staffed with women only are becoming far less unusual. Approximately 1/3 of our current members are women, and that proportion carries through to referents as well.




Campaign for Michigan Film Tax Credit

A message from Lindsey Katerberg, IATSE Local 26 First Vice President:

IATSE Local 26 West Michigan Stagehands ask for your support in our campaign for film tax credits in Michigan. Film tax credits will bring numerous forms of media to Michigan; films, streaming, television, corporate, commercial, as well as benefit and grow existing Michigan businesses, create new Michigan vendors, and most importantly create thousands of new jobs. For those of us in the live events and entertainment industry these tax credits are vital to securing new employment projects and opportunities in these uncharted times where the vast majority has not seen work in our industry since March 2020.


We are seeking discussion with representatives to educate and explain the nature of our industry, the breakdown of this proposed legislation, the multiple ways in which it benefits our State as a whole, and how it brings Michigan to the competitive market with over 30 other states. As we listen to those saying that these tax credits are not a priority given the pandemic and economic challenges, let us remind everyone that our industry has not yet reopened and will not any time soon, leaving us most deeply impacted. In our fight to move forward out of these dark times we have joined the Michigan Film Industry Association in their efforts to rebuild our industry cementing a more secure future for our prospective employment for years to come.

We are working with the Michigan Film Industry Association to create and support a sustainable film tax credit program.


The legislation includes the following:


  • A two-tiered program that covers both commercials/industrials & feature film/television/streaming productions
  • A transferable tax credit-based system rather than a grant or rebate based one; no money is paid out of the general fund
  • Applicants may sell off unused tax credits to other MI based companies, typically at a percentage on the dollar which makes them attractive to purchase. The tax credit stays in Michigan & benefits Michigan companies. It is a one-time transfer with up to 10 assignees
  • For projects 20 minutes or longer the application fee is $2000, requires a minimum spend of $300,000, & the cap for total credits issued per year increases at regular 3-year intervals over a 10-year period: $50 million $75 million $100 million
  • For projects 20 minutes or under the application fee is $1000, requires a minimum spend of $50,000, & the cap for total credits issued per year increases at regular 3-year intervals over a 10-year period: $2 million $4 million $10 million
  • If the cap for credits is not met they roll over into the next year
  • The application fee is non-refundable & will be used to fund the Michigan Film Office
  • To qualify production must begin within 90 days of approval
  • The base tax credit starts at 25% for in state spending with an additional 5% rewarded for the inclusion of a “Filmed in Michigan” logo
  • A 30% tax credit is awarded for hiring Michigan residents, non-residents are only given a 20% tax credit, & any wages paid out to a single person per project in excess of $500,000 do not qualify for a tax credit
  • The bill includes language defining what constitutes a “full-time employee” which will support a more accurate count when tracking the increase of jobs created as a result of the film tax credits
  • Pre-production, production, & post-production will qualify, ‘development’ costs will not
  • Language that excludes ‘pass-through’ transactions & businesses from qualifying protect Michigan based companies & encourages new business investment; qualified vendors must show a brick & mortar /inventory/full time employee presence
  • Under a tax credit-based system there is less initial burden on the Film Office & Treasury which allows applications to be processed faster- qualified expenditures are verified at the end of the project before a credit amount is issued
  • Language that requires verification by an independent CPA & signed affidavit to submit qualified expenditures for approval ensures accountability
  • No tax credits will be authorized or issued to any applicant until there is confirmation that all qualified vendor & employee invoices have been fully satisfied & paid in full which ensures that the Treasury can collect taxes before issuing the credit


We encourage you to reach out to your state representatives to encourage their support.


Something Good Ornament Contest


This year unleashed an avalanche of negativity, illness, and financial struggle. We all could use a break from thinking about it. So we are going take a little time to share a bit of positivity. We are inviting IATSE Local 26 members, referents, and their families to create something good. Think about what has given you solace this year. It could be a favorite song, place, character, anything that makes you happy. Are you looking forward to Christmas, New Years, or Inauguration Day? Maybe playing in the snow or curling up with your teddy bear? Then break out the arts and craft supplies. Make an ornament to celebrate it and share some joy.

Ornament must be:

  • Homemade
  • Between 1 inch and 6 inches in diameter
  • Must hang from a string
  • Be something GOOD

I understand some of our stagehands are proud to have the blackened soul of the condemned but this is a family contest. No vulgar, suggestive, or hurtful entries will be accepted.

Send photos of ornaments to please include artist’s name and age (or just indicate artist is over 18). Entries must be submitted by no later than 5pm Friday December 18th .  ***Sunday 12/20 at 5pm*** (extended entry time). Winner’s ornaments will be featured on social media. We have prizes appropriate to each age group and gift bags for participating children. Winners and parents will be contacted about contact free prize pick up or delivery.

Age groups:

  • Under 6s
  • 7-12s
  • 13-18
  • 18+

Prizes will be awarded based on creativity, inspiration, and theme. To the lucky winner of the Broadway Puzzle, I highly recommend listening to the cast recordings while working on the puzzle. It doesn’t help you solve it any faster but it does make every move seem very dramatic!