Rose Etta Venetucci has been elected business representative of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 28. It is the only full-time post at the union, and Venetucci is the first woman to hold the job in the local’s 122-year history.
She succeeds Roger Gayton II, who did not seek re-election.
IATSE Local 28 represents about 400 stage (members and extras), wardrobe, and allied craft workers. They work shows in Portland at the Keller Auditorium, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Moda Center, Memorial Coliseum, and Newmark and Winningstad theaters. They also work business conferences, and concerts in arenas and outdoor venues throughout the Portland metro area and Southwest Washington.
Venetucci, 52, has been with the union since 1990. She had just completed her first three-year term as president when the business rep job opened, and she was encouraged to run. Venetucci has held posts as an Executive Board member, vice president, and chair of the Education and Membership committees, and she helped plan the local’s 100-year anniversary party in 1995.
A native of Los Angeles, Venetucci moved north to study theater at Portland State University. She was introduced to Local 28 while working as a stagehand at the university’s Lincoln Hall. The theater was run by union member Chris Herrick.
“He raised us IATSE and ensured we learned our craft on the job site. On big shows he would bring in a union crew to work side-by-side with us. I hand-delivered my application to join the union,” she said.
Venetucci worked as a theater electrician. She was very active in the union until 2005, when a automobile accident resulted in a partial disability. She disappeared for five years.
“Why did I come back? I was asked,” she said.
In 2010, then-business rep Radar Bateman offered her an office job to fill a vacancy. She did some dispatching and assisted Bateman where needed.
Three years later she ran for president.
President Venetucci reached out to members, asking them to volunteer at least once a year in any event they wanted — whether it was to support Local 28 or some community group.
“Being a union member has rights and responsibilities, and being active is fun and rewarding,” she said.
Local 28 members stepped up. Their union banner can be seen at most rallies, marches and protests; the local participated for the first time in the Northwest Oregon Labor Council’s Muscular Dystrophy “Labor Bowl” fundraiser; during last November’s election, Local 28 sponsored two phone bank nights — and 68 percent of its members voted in the election. The union launched a “Young Workers Committee” for members ages 18 to 35. The group holds regular gatherings, with an open invitation to the entire labor community. And attendance at union meetings continues to grow.
“The most important part is showing the importance of the work and make it fun,” Venetucci said.
In addition to her duties as business rep, Venetucci sits on the Executive Board of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, representing the amusement trades section for the Oregon Theatrical Federation. She also serves on the Oregon AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE) board.
“I am inspired by many of my brothers and sisters who have supported, shared, and educated me,” Venetucci said. “I hope to pay it forward, and encourage all my brothers and sisters to get active.”
In other IATSE Local 28 election results: Rhiannon Rodriguez-Betts was elected president; Gayton was elected vice president; Jay Spottswood was elected recording secretary; and Phillip Timmons was elected financial secretary/treasurer. Executive Board members are Katherine Andrews, Kathryn Mura, Mike Pratt, and Stephanie Cook.