A Statement from President Brown Regarding Recent Events
Sisters and Brothers of Local 479,
After several conversations with members and a meeting yesterday with fellow Presidents of IATSE locals throughout the United States and Canada, I feel compelled now more than ever to communicate our position on the recent events in our city and throughout the country.
The video that surfaced recently showing the grotesque and senseless killing of Mr. George Floyd has ignited our country resulting in protests around the world. I, as your President, have participated along with members of my family, in peaceful protests in and around Atlanta. I walked side by side with people of all color from IATSE Local 479 and Atlanta Teamsters Local 728, out of respect for the families of George Floyd and all those before him, to protest the violence that took these individuals from us.
The idea that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness is at the very core of the labor movement. It was, in fact, the labor movement that literally locked arms with Dr. King during the civil rights movement, because we stood for the exact same principles. Dr. King professed and said in his own words “The labor movement was the principle force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress.” So yes, when our Sisters and Brothers of color suffer, we all in the labor movement suffer. We are suffering now.
As we move forward it is important to make this clear to our members. I along with the Executive Board of IATSE Local 479, stand in solidarity with The Honorable Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia, The Honorable Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta, and the community leaders they have called upon, to stop the violent protests in the city of Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia. Local 479 in no way condones the destruction of property or violence toward any person. We are above this as a union of peaceful, loving people that simply want to see justice served and our country healed. I call on you all today to follow your heart and to help do your part. If you choose to make your voices heard, then speak loudly and exercise your right to peacefully assemble.
Part of the International Equality Statement reads “The IATSE is committed to equality of opportunity and to eliminating all forms of discrimination.” This has been the mantra of Local 479 as long as I have been your President and well before me. I pledge to you that I will do my part to keep Local 479 a place for all of us to grow with peace, dignity and respect.
In closing let me extend to you my heartfelt and sincere best wishes to you and your families. This is a trying time for those of us with love and healing in our hearts. I submit this response to you with all humility as we navigate these trying times together.
Raymond L. Brown Jr.
President IATSE Local 479