From the Presdent
It’s time we begin the conversation…
We are all practicing the same crafts regardless of region, but much of that work has become mobile and redefined many of us as migrant film workers.
We provide essential services to the making of film and television content across the Alliance and ultimately the world. We can benefit greatly by seeing ourselves in the context of our larger community as filmmakers, technicians and committed professionals.
How does the real world of production reflect this reality?
We are collectively experiencing a variety of logistical and procedural challenges in wages and conditions—a key concern of every union organization.
I believe we are at a crossroads.
I believe we need to create a national Conference for Unification, for the express purpose of developing a national contract for IATSE sound and video and studio projection workers.
There are precedents to this concept: consider the contracts the other technical locals, Camera’s 600 and Editorial’s 700, enjoy. There are lessons to be learned, pro and con, from these examples as we are a unique community with special considerations. Still, the stool has three legs and without all three, is fundamentally unstable.
What are the objectives?
It is way past the time for us to see ourselves sustainably tied to the ebb and flow of work coming to our towns. It’s time for us to consider ourselves a national community of professionals with common interest, coherent negotiating strategies and uniform wages and conditions for the work we provide the industry.
We must find our voice as the national constituency that we are, in order to better serve these goals. As we proceed, it’s important to be mindful of the accomplishments and concerns of leadership from both the various Studio Mechanics Locals and Local 695. They provide essential protections that we need to preserve.
What are the problems?
Regrettably, the good work of Local 695 and the various Studio Mechanics Locals has been unable to address an enormous disparity between wages and conditions in the major markets and those paid for equivalent productions in other markets. This disconnect is profoundly corrosive and needs to be corrected. The current patchwork of contracts doesn’t provide the tools to address this: a National Contract can.
Our members find themselves navigating rules that are often difficult to understand and differ from region to region. This insecurity is sometimes compounded by contract language that compels them to negotiate their own wages and terms of employment. I believe this language should be purged from our contracts.
The ability to follow the work faces ever more restrictive policies. Many members are carrying the burden of multiple initiations and dues obligations as they establish residencies and join additional locals around the country in a defensive effort to protect their family’s financial security.
Regional tensions seem based less on strategy than on the anxious impulse to protect local territory; the strength in numbers needed to solve the larger issues becomes dissipated in member fears and loss of faith in the union itself.
What are the potential solutions?
Without preempting the collaborative work to be done in drafting a National Contract, I’ll make a few suggestions as starting points for that discussion:
Let us schedule a focused national meeting for the constituencies to these issues: The sound and video rank and file of the various Studio Mechanics Locals and 695 members and their respective leaderships.
At this gathering, we draft the core elements of a National Contract designed to function under the IATSE umbrella.
Then let us engage the IATSE to partner in this work and implement the necessary steps to move it forward.
Such a contract should halt further destabilization of wages and conditions in these crafts, give the International a one-stop relationship with our specialized community, unify all the contract discrepancies, properly realign the innate common interest of the members providing these services, and end the tension between regional leadership and members.
In the aggregate, we’re a small group, albeit with a large footprint.
I believe pulling us together under a National Contract would begin to solve the many problems facing us.
In the current IATSE Bulletin, President Matt Loeb states:
“…we must adapt so that our structure strengthens our ability to succeed on behalf of the members. Growth and strength through sound, robust infrastructure will mean better contracts, conditions, and benefits. That is how we define success.
We must also plan for changes we will face in the future. Above all, we will never forget that our members come first. I share this plan with all of us and ask that you adopt it as our shared vision for the future.”
I take to heart President Loeb’s sentiments here and challenge all of us to begin this conversation in earnest.
Mark Ulano-President-IATSE Local 695