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Film Industry’s Invisible Workforce Votes for Dignity, Respect

In an unprecedented show of unity, Parking Production Assistants in New York City voted unanimously to join CWA Local 1101.

Over 400 ballots were received by the National Labor Relations Board and counted on Monday for six separate elections for Parking Production Assistants (PPAs) employed by ABC, CBS, NBC TV, NBC Cable, HBO, and SONY.  The decision was loud and clear: all PPAs voted “yes” to unionizing. 

"This vote was about dignity, about humanity,” said Lanere Rollins, a PPA who spoke last month at the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration about the organizing efforts. “Film and TV productions couldn't happen without us, but PPAs have been on the bottom rung of the entertainment industry for a long time.  Not one PPA in the city voted ‘no’ for the union, because we're stepping up to demand the respect and fair treatment that we deserve.”

PPAs, who are predominantly low-wage workers of color, secure parking in the New York City area for film and television productions, usually arriving 12 to 24 hours prior to production and working through the night in their personal vehicles to ensure that parking spaces are secured for production vehicles and equipment. The work requires PPAs to spend long hours alone, overnight, usually without access to a bathroom, and risk violent altercations with drivers seeking parking. They were also the only group of workers in the multi-billion dollar film and television industry who were not unionized prior to today’s vote count.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Parking Production Assistants to the CWA family,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One.  “These workers have been struggling for far too long to make ends meet in unfathomable working conditions, and today’s unanimous vote is a historic moment for both CWA and the hard-working men and women who help ensure that the City’s film industry can function.” 

The campaign to organize the city’s more than 800 PPAs picked up steam in recent months as the PPAs gained support from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rev. Al Sharpton, the New York State NAACP, Martin Luther King III, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, and many others - a strong demonstration of New York City’s commitment to its labor force. 

“I'm so proud of the work we've done to get here,” said Ms. Rollins after the vote count was completed.  “And proud to be a CWA member!"