IATSE #iaywc14 Conference rocks in Portland, Oregon

It's hard sometimes to write about what you're passionate about, what truly connects with your heart and soul. I can happily stand up in front of people and talk on a daily basis, I run a training company so I love it! But the very first time I stood up and talked about me and my opinions and experiences, it felt alien and quiet scary. For when you stand up, not just talking about what you know, but who you are, it's a completely difference game.

For me equality has always been something I've just thought everyone would believe in, it just seems so bloody simple to me. But alas, over the past twenty years or so I have been in direct contact with people who have different opinions to this, which saddens me deeply.

So to sit in a conference room of a hotel in Portland, Oregon this week with another hundred or so people who believed in equal opportunities for all, the way I did, was quite frankly, emotional.
I felt so proud and honoured to stand up in front of young workers from across America and Canada and share opinions and ideas, in support of change across the world.
We talked of how unions have impacted the world we live in, and how we could try and explain to others how important they are. Unions have been a big part in moving the equality agenda forward and were very key in getting some of the workers right acts passed that keep our workers safe today.

So, what is IATSE anyway I hear you ask. Well if you know me at all, or have read any of the other blogs on here you'll have heard (I hope) of BECTU - the Broadcast, Entertainment, Cinematography and Theatre Union. IATSE is basically the sister union covering America and Canada. IATSE stands for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada. Basically a mixture of entertainment crafts and techie people. I've met two groups of them now, one in Philadelphia in 2012, and again this year in Portland, and they are a joy to be with. They are passionate, youthful and energetic individuals, with a sense of equality for all - just my bag!

Through the three day conference we heard personal stories from young activists that would inspire the dreariest of you, completed a COMET workshop (Continued Organising Membership Education Training), discussed with brothers and sisters from the union about issues they had in the workplace, and even the structure of how IATSE works (very different to over here in the UK).

But an underlining tone of everything was the feeling that the future was our responsibility and if we didn't try and start to improve the culture of young people, young workers and their lives, we would invariably end up in a world in more poverty, debt crisis and inequality than exists now.

So at the moment I stand alone, or maybe with a handful of people in the movement, but hopefully that will change soon. We don't have the fame of Emma Watson who can pull in the masses on such a powerful subject like the #Heforshe UN campaign, but we do believe is the same sort of causes, and try and do the same sort of work. We are after all, after the same goals, regardless of who we are.
Come join us too?