Monday, May 9, 2011

The Basic Agreement: The Holy Grail????

For those individuals lucky enough to be on the payroll of one of the Major Motion Picture Studios or those companies who have consented to be part of the AMPTP's multi-employer bargaining unit, when a majority of their co-workers in an appropriate bargaining unit (more on what that is later)vote for IATSE representation in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, then the IATSE Basic Agreement "immediately become(s) effective with respect to such employees."
Step one is for 30% (or more) of the workforce to sign authorization cards.
Step two is for the IATSE to file a Representation Petition (called an RC) with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB will conduct a hearing to determine who is eligible to vote; supervisors are generally not eligible, although the IATSE has traditionally represented Directors of Photography, Production Designers, Film Editors, Sound Mixers and others who have some supervisory functions similar, for example, to those of a visual effects supervisor. Following that hearing, the NLRB conducts a secret ballot election. And, if a majority of those voting for union representation, then, in this group of companies, the agreement becomes effective. But, only for those companies who have already signed the IATSE Basic Agreement. For all other companies, we'd have to sit down and negotiate an agreement from scratch. Taking into account their unique aspects. An appropriate bargaining unit means those employees who have a "community of interest". People who eat together, drink coffee together, work in the same building or area, are customarily deemed to be an appropriate bargaining unit. In production, a film crew or television crew is probably an appropriate bargaining unit, but that could be challenged by an employer.
Okay; so assume all that happens, then what?
Since there are currently no wages specifically applicable in the IATSE agreements for classifications of visual effects artists; we'd have to work out those rates.
But our Medical and Pension Plans would certainly go into effect. For medical, on attaining 600 qualifying hours, you'd get to choose between Blue Shield, Health Net, or Kaiser. You'd pay no monthly payment for that coverage. If you went to an Industry Health Plan network doctor, you'd have no co-payment for a doctor visit. At Kaiser, you'd pay $5 for a doctor visit.
You'd have pension contributions made on your behalf, including an individual account plan, with funds set aside just for you. You'd get overtime, premium pay for work performed after 8pm, for a sixth and seventh consecurite day. You'd get a meal break after 6 hours of work. And you wouldn't have to eat at your desk.
Anything else would be subject to negotiation with employee/members controlling the outcome.
Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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