July/August 2014

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5 JUL-AUG 14 / CINEMONTAGE by Rob Callahan S top me if you've heard this one before: A crew of post-production professionals walk into a non- union employer. They are more or less happy with their jobs, but they realize those jobs would be even better if they were covered under a union contract. The post employees talk amongst themselves and decide that, as a unified group, they can improve upon the terms of employment that each of them had individually accepted. Collectively, they make demands of their employer. In the wrangling that follows, they walk off the job for a short time. The community of Local 700 and IATSE brothers and sisters coalesces in support of them. After a while, the employees win and the employer agrees to sign a contract. Folks return to work with health and pension contributions, raises to scale, stronger overtime provisions, vacation and holiday pay, and all the other various advantages of an IATSE deal. Okay, you probably have indeed heard that one before. If you regularly follow this column in CineMontage, you've read several versions of this scenario over the past few years. The names and the settings may change, but the story arc remains consistent: Folks band together; folks take a stand; folks win improvements at work. For the current iteration of this tale, you might dig out an earlier version of this story and loop in Last Comic Standing — NBC's recently revived comedy-competition-reality show — in place of the employer's name. The show's editors and assistant editors shut down post-production on April 21, a month and a day before the season's scheduled premiere, to win a union contract. Even though the plot is predicated upon familiar elements, the story of the Last Comic Standing win — indeed, the story of each organizing victory — is unique. The fact that the set-up and delivery followed the same pattern as previous post-driven organizing campaigns in no way detracts from the individual acts of courage and commitment performed by this particular crew. Their story is no less heroic for its increasing familiarity. Such material stays fresh, no matter how many times we hear it. As an organizer, I fall in love a little with each crew of folks who stand up to improve their jobs and to lift standards in our industry. At the risk of sounding like a rationalizing lothario, I don't think that such loves are at all diminished by the fact that they're not my first and won't be my last. One thing that makes my affair with the editors and assistant editors of Last Comic Standing different from prior romances with other crews, though, is that the time we spent together was so brief. If the Last Comic Standing story resembles a number of other recent organizing efforts led by editorial teams — a post crew with cojones, a successful unscripted show, unusual circumstances that bar a conventional campaign involving coordinated action between production and editorial crews, a tight post schedule with looming airdates — it differs markedly in its pacing. This campaign moved with the frenzy of a music video aimed at an audience of ADD-addled adolescents; it made previous post-only strikes look GET TING ORGANIZED Comedy Is Hard. But Flipping Ain't Easy Either CONTINUED ON PAGE 54 Guild members Jonathan Yang, left, and Jimmy Tartanella were among the strikers who helped secure a union contract for Last Comic Standing. Photo by Bonnie Osbourne CineMontage_Jul-Aug_14-4.indd 5 6/18/14 6:59 PM

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