So this past Sunday there were public meetings in Vancouver and Los Angeles for the IATSE. I’ve been getting email reports from people who attended.
I’m not surprised that both meetings had low turnout. For Los Angeles, many artists I talked to are gung-ho about joining however some didn’t even know about the meeting, others are fearful about making a public apperarance, and some are purposely skipping attendance until the IA gets a website going.
I can’t blame them, many have stated that it’s impossible to start an organizing drive without having some professionally backed IA website that states the facts. It’s pathetic.
In Vancouver, the discussion seemed to center on the high technology worker provision law that some facilities use to prevent paying OT. This was debunked by IATSE Local 891 as they had a lawyer answer the question on their website. See how that works? A website delivers the information people need to get facts. There was also discussions about what benefits they offer and the rules to get organized. Reports are the meeting left a positive impression.
In Los Angeles it seems that many of the people just didn’t have enough information to get the facts. Most of this was attributed to there being no website. It should be no surprise that this swung the doors wide open to misinformation as Jeff Heusser commented on my blog:
At the beach meeting today someone said “we can just buy our own healthcare”. I hear this casually tossed out a lot in the union discussion but it is often not that simple. Imagine working for a company that goes out of business leaving you suddenly with no health insurance, add a pre-existing condition and the family costs can go into the thousands per month – if you can even get coverage.
Many freelance visual effects artists get no paid vacation, get no sick days, no paid holidays. Are these not things that workers should expect? When did expecting these things become wrong?
The misinformation involving seniority clauses and runaway production to India will only foment unless the IATSE can do something to get the facts out.
If the IATSE cannot get a professional website going to get concise facts out and answer frequently asked questions, their campaign will be dead on arrival.
You see the problem the IATSE is having is that they are too busy trying to TELL artists what they can offer rather than SHOW artists what they can offer.
Here is what the IATSE should do.
They should recruit a small group of vfx artists who have been former IA members and are familiar with the benefits they offer to help create a guideline for how to present the info to fellow artists.
They should get together with a professional to design a simple but effective website that will be easy to access for artists who have questions or want to do research on what the IA can offer.
The IA should have a page where they can post Frequently Asked Questions that they can answer so they don’t have to answer the same question over and over at meetings.
Artists should email the IATSE copies of their benefit plans if they get them . The website should create one sheets that compare and contrast the plans they offer to what employers offer so artists can easily discuss these issues and decide.
A good framework of what I speak about can be seen in these posts:
Notice how I show rather than tell artists the benefits of unionization. Simplify the message and you will quickly see those who are out to spread misinformation become disarmed by the facts.
Every show I’ve worked on starts off like this. The pipeline is messed up, decisions need to be made, people need to communicate. Welcome to the film industry. Once the problems are pointed out, the appropriate people are tasked with fixing the problems and the production/organization process becomes a well lubed machine. I’m not comparing the plight to be the same but if the people of Egypt can organize a campaign to overthrow their government through the internet and Twitter in just 18 days, why can’t we so something simpler and not as ambitious?