Local 706 - The Artisan

Summer 2017

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/855859

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6 LOCAL LOCAL PERSPECTIVE BY TOMMY COLE Business Representative, I.A.T.S.E. Local 706 When I first became a Business Representative for Local 706 in 2004, our Local didn't get involved in any kind of serious organizing campaigns. We basically kept to ourselves, and let the International sign up productions and write contracts for productions under the Basic, Video Tape, Commercial and the newly negotiated National Low Budget Agreement. We just supplied our artisans from the Industry Experience Roster, and stayed out of the way. Now, jump to a few years later. An area our Local has been quite suc- cessful at and kept busy with over the last 10 or so years is what the IA calls "flipping." Most of the nonunion shoots around town have a lot of IA members working, including our own Local 706 members. There isn't a week that goes by where there aren't up to a half dozen emails from the IA West Coast calling for all hands on deck … which means they need our help … They usually send us an email with a call sheet attached for one of those productions, and we are asked to contact our members to see if the make-up/hair crew or anyone else on the below-the-line crew is interested in flipping the show to union. If all the locals involved find that a major- ity of the crew is interested in help- ing to organize, we are then asked to meet the entire crew at either crew call or lunch time, where we will ask them to sign authorization cards stat- ing that they wish to become union- ized. We then ask them to stay out and not go back to work while an IA Representative(s) attempt to negotiate a contract with production; sometimes this is accomplished within hours or it may take days. Most of the time we are successful, and a contract is negotiated. Why we have been so successful in orga- nizing here in Los Angeles is because almost everyone working needs hours to keep up their benefits, and basically, what the IA is pushing in these contracts are benefits and fair and safe working conditions. The International is not only busy orga- nizing here in LA, but all over the United States and Canada, not only in the areas of film and television, but in convention halls, audio/visual venues, hotels, sport channels, theaters, arenas and many more locations internationally. Because of the IA and our Local's endeavors, many of our members have been able to put more hours into their health and pension. Every now and again, I will get a call or email from a member with questions relating to low-budget contracts, and why they were negotiated. My answer is consistently the same. These contracts were put in play for very valid reasons. They were negotiated by the International to get low-budget productions that had been historically nonunion (movies of the week, etc.), under an IA banner and to provide an avenue for IA members to receive fair wages and reasonable and safe working condi- tions, along with most importantly, health and pension ben- efits put into their MPI accounts. The wages under these contracts fluctuate, depending on the budget of each production ... the higher the budget, the higher the wages. We, as a Local, do not get into the actual negotiat- ing of any of these contracts; we just administer them. Truthfully, if they did not put these productions under a union contract, our members and every other union's members would still be working them without any benefits, and/or reasonable and safe working conditions. I am thankful the IA brought low- budget contracts into play because without them, thousands of IA mem- bers in the Hollywood locals (includ- ing many of our 706 members) would have lost their health benefits, had to go on Cobra or would have had to shop for their own health insur- ance. These low budgets not only saved their MPI benefits, but also put food on the table and helped to pay the rent. Do I wish the wages were higher? Of course I do! But, until we are able to get higher yearly incentives that are more than the $330 million yearly, without a cap, most of those high-budget shows will keep filming out of state. Fortunately, for the next few years, television and new media will keep flourishing here, along with the lower contracts, and will continue to keep the soundstages full during a good amount of the season. May this trend continue. May all your days be full of steady work, nice people to work with and a check that never bounces. Please enjoy this issue of The Artisan. Sincerely and Fraternally, Sincerely and Fraternally, Without these (low-budget contracts), thousands of IA members in the Hollywood locals … would have lost their health benefits. " "

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