Monday, July 11, 2011

Comments, comments, comments

Frankly, I was pretty thrilled to get so much feedback about my "Aren't you ashamed" post, and my dialogue with Scott Squires (who I admire and respect a great deal.)

I get it that Rolling Red had a pretty negative experience with the organizing drive up in Vancouver: and i'm truly sorry about that. At the meetings I conducted here in Los Angeles, I usually refrained from handing out cards; realizing we're not ready for that yet. There were question and answer sessions, which were followed up with innumerable e-mails; begging for feedback, questions, and enlarging the scope of those just talking about this issue. One of our primary objectives at this point is to identify the priorities of the artists. For some, the issue seems to be the "independent contractor" status issue; the 1099, and the "flat" rate pay structure (with no overtime no matter how many hours worked). But, for others, the goal seems to be coverage by the Motion Picture Industry Health and Welfare Fund. Many, however, are genuinely concerned that their employer could never afford $5 per hour contributions. So, for those people, we've noted the existence of an IATSE "national" benefit fund, for which the contribution rate is much lower. Frankly; we're still trying to establish priorities, and realistic goals for this segment of the industry.
ETMTHREE noted that many small companies are owner-operated by individuals who also continue to seek work as employees as visual artists. ETM thought my accusation of "you ought to be ashamed"....was unfair if directed at these small outfits. I AGREE. That's not who I'm talking about. The accusation was pointed at ONE specific company employing hundreds of artists, whose owner continues to threaten and intimidate his workforce. As to those smaller outfits, we continue to hope that they will approach the IATSE to discuss tailoring an agreement that allows them to remain competitive while treating their employees to a modest package of benefits including medical insurance. We know these guys want to do right by their employees and we think we can work together to achieve mutually beneficial results.
Scott continues to urge me to do a better job of communicating and educating. He's right. We've hired a communications director and we'll be starting work next week on our long-awaited WEBSITE. And I'll continue to blog away and try to touch upon issues you guys raise. One issue at a time. So, thanks to all of you for caring, for writing, and for identifying ways we can do a better job. Our only reason for existence is to serve you, and we'll continue to strive to do that.
Stay in touch.

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