when my kids were little, they played a little game. as we drove through a tunnel they would close their eyes, hold their breath, and make a wish. if they held their breath until we emerged from the tunnel, their wish would come true.
nearly always, when we emerged from a tunnel, one of them would say, "oh, darn, YOU'RE still here!!!".
And so I am.
It's been one year since I started back at the IATSE. Initially, we had meetings in very public places. After a while we learned that most artists were leary of supporting the union in public. So, lately we've shied away from bars and pizza parlors. I even stopped baking chocolate chip cookies.
I've tried to address issues of interest in this blog. And, I've been working on content for our website, which will be unveiled shortly. Not as soon as I had hoped. But it is coming.
We've stayed on the sidelines as the VES has mobilized its members to openly explore better treatment; independent contractor status, overtime, unpaid hours, medical insurance and pensions. It was hoped that some sort of group medical insurance might be possible.
But the IATSE continues to believe that we represent the optimum solution to many of the ills of this part of the entertainment industry. As the "Affordable Health Care Act" rolls out, employers will have to purchase health insurance for all their full-time employees anyway. (Might this be part of the motivation for the "employer of record" scams being perpetrated in our industry?? Namely, that those employers want to avoid having to absorb the cost of federally mandated healthcare??)
So, if health care is mandatory. And overtime is required by law. And independent contractor status is of dubious validity. And, despite tax rebates all over the place, continued robust employment here in Southern California. Maybe a union agreement is possible. yes, it might even save some companies some money!! And, were such an agreement to become industry-wide (as is our Motion Picture Basic Agreement), we might even see a trade association rise up to make sure that the nominal cost of that union agreement could be passed on as part of the budgeted cost of a motion picture or television program. (Ask me about the "union protection" provisions of the Network/Studio Package Agreements which expressly provide that union wage and benefit increases are reimbursed by the the Networks to the Studio/Packagers....)(And, by the way, no one has ever challenged the right of the studios to form a trade association like the AMPTP.)
So. I'm still here. So are you. So, is your job. In South Pasadena. In Culver City. In Venice. In San Francisco. Even if you close your eyes and hold your breath.
Don't wake up twenty years from now and regret that your fears of globalization and foreign competition prevented you from simple protections from employers who will exploit you if you let them. We can do this. We will do this. And, if you want, I'll bake chocolate chip cookies to celebrate.