Dave Rand Comments On IATSE Campaign

I need to correct the record about posting there was a low turnout in the Vancouver VFX union meeting this past Sunday. Given the relative smaller size of the Vancouver VFX market, the fact that they were able to match the same amount of people in the Los Angeles meeting is a success. Organizer Dusty Kelly emailed me to add that 8 facilities were represented in a meeting that went for 2 hours with rep cards being signed.

VFX artist Dave Rand commented on my IATSE meeting post. I agree with everything in it and I’ve decided to promote it to a full post below.

Dear IATSE,

I wish I could have attended at least the Vancouver meeting but I had prior commitments and the notice was a bit short.
I do like Mr Goodman’s personal touch, his emails are always welcome in my mailbox for sure.  As a union member in pause mode after working for Image Movers I can certainly attest to the symbiotic relationship that has evolved between Disney and the Union and how that benefited all involved.  I’m hoping that relationship model is what the future will hold.  The two Steves of the Animation Guild were always available and approachable. Information was the name of game with those guys for sure. My only critique…I wish the Guild had grown faster and more deliberately with the industry over the years.
I  was very happy to see a new push announced via Variety and the letter to VES.

Leadership is the most important part of any revolution, it takes a tremendous amount of talent and energy. Most of us work very long hours earning our paychecks, and the right to be employed,  and have little time left to volunteer for the cause.  We are paid to do our jobs and we need IATSE leadership to honor their paychecks with as much velocity as possible….. and I believe we will follow, tell our friends about the plan, sign the cards, and cary a sign one day if we have to….but we need to know that plan and it’s got to be a damn great one to sell the cause and motivate change. This is all very very late in coming and we may have but one shot this decade to make it work or it loses all steam and collapses.

If someone were to tell me that this is all just a side show meant to derail us a bit longer I’d almost believe it …but I don’t I want to believe that this is very real as I’ve been ripped off along with many others over the years starting with the unpaid artists on Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Details do need to be available and since these potential members spend most of their waking hours staring at computer screens it makes sense to use that space, exploit it, saturate it. It works with everyone’s schedule and reaches everyone’s mind.
Please post the plan and answer questions on the hour. Since I can not get to all the small gatherings in LA Some ideas I’ve thought over are below, I’m no expert but I want to participate, so I would like to respectfully add some thoughts here, I really would have thought that something resembling this would have been all in place before they shot Jimmy out of the Vareity canon….

-If IATSE plans on covering both Canada and the USA in recognition of the industry’s infrastructure already in place can we make crossing the border and getting work permits part of the Nexus plan?
http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/nexus/menu-eng.html

-There needs to be much work done on the criteria artists are crossing the border under… many are actually given work permits that are a lie.  Stating they are doing jobs that not only have nothing to do with their job but nothing to do any jobs in our industry.  (One has just told me his permit states he is a Premier editor for Fx shot….wtf is that?)   I had a border guard turn me away only to be swayed because I knew Brendan Frasier and she has a crush on him so looked up what happened….and decided to let me in to Canada for 6 months.  I felt like a migrant melon picker, my whole life in storage and under the whim of a misaligned border agent.

-Would it be possible for a health care system that crosses the border?

-As for the USA (my home country) please list the details of the retirement, healthcare, pension plans that will follow me from state to state. The Guild offers lifetime health care after so many years of membership…will the new push have that?

-I’ve noticed IATSE is petitioning the California to offer incentives…how is that going?  What else will you do other than this first move (a great idea btw) to photograph artists and personalize the cause?

some more common stuff:

-How much will the fees be to join and the dues afterwards.

-How will we elect our leaders?

-How do I sign up without fear?

-What are the laws?

-If we ever did go on a strike, how would that work, how would we pay our bills?

-Can we have a section that covers the history of the unions in show business through film clips, books, all media, information that demonstrates from testimonials and archives how it has benefited the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers and families since the early part of the last century. Many young people have not idea how deep this goes.

-Forums that protect ones anonymity.

-A section that explains to studios right down to the small shops how we plan to help their cause as well.  Many are floundering and need help and not a knife to the heart. There has to be a symbiotic relationship, it should not be a war, right now that will only help the powerful who have been working so hard to keep us scattered to the four corners.

-How can we reach all those corners and unite them?

We are getting a very late start on an effort that requires new thinking. It’s my belief we can not follow old union models. New ones have to evolve and take advantage of new tools and ways of sharing, thinking, and growing together with the studios.

If you disagree or have your own thoughts please don’t fight me on it …just post and ask your questions…as I won’t waste energy arguing with other members.

I think this is a very relevant video….

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7346812n

Sincerely,

Dave Rand

7 Responses to Dave Rand Comments On IATSE Campaign

  1. Jason Macza says:

    Great letter

    “Leadership is the most important part of any revolution”

    YES! We should focus efforts on principles of democracy. As a group we Vote, discuss, post, and direct representatives.

    I think we need representative not a leader. Active members not passive bystanders.

  2. Dave Rand says:

    Thanks Jason, and sorry I should clarify what I mean by leadership. I mean strong leaders (plural). I believe that needs to start with the paid leaders of IATSE, especially since they made the follow announcements:

    “IATSE has been laying the groundwork for its drive for the past year”

    “IATSE has set up an organizing committee of industry veterans to develop a strategy.”

    If we are to give them our money and sign over our power of attorney I think we deserve to know what these plans are and how they differ from the last 20 yrs of almost zero growth in the current IATSE union representing fx artists compared to the explosion of the fx industry.

    It is all about TRUST and LEADERSHIP.

    We will accomplish nothing without strong leadership.
    We need this to START with paid and chosen leaders of IATSE, later, yes unions members have a voice in election of leaders.

    Unions employ leaders for this purpose. Unions are not charities or churches or co-ops. They raise power and money and employ thousands to accomplish this.

    We need them to work harder than ever at this for it to succeed so late in the game.

  3. […] it will serve well as a cork-lined interactive bulletin board for you to visit at you leisure. Dave Rand called for the leadership of the IATSE to “honor their paychecks” by setting this site up and […]

  4. […] Organizer/Lawyer Jimmy Goodman sent a response to Dave Rand’s comments on the IATSE campaign. I’ve posted here with permission. I’ve also added links. Lots of good info […]

  5. Union member says:

    I think this is a great post/letter, but a few things should be clarified. First, when a studio goes union, no one is signing over ‘power of attorney’ to the union. It’s language like that that freaks people out, and it’s not helpful. When a union is voted in, it’s voted in to negotiate minimum pay rates and minimum benefits. The individual worker is still responsible for negotiating their own specific deal, and managing their own life and work conditions.

    I also think you put too much weight on the importance of leaders. Yes, the IA (the main body) needs to step up and be as involved and connected as the leaders of TAG have been in the animation industry. But ultimately, those leaders cannot do it without huge grassroots support.

    Look at what’s happened in Tunisia and Egypt. Who are the leaders there? I don’t see any. I see a huge mass of mistreated people who have collectively said enough is enough. Those people need to develop and nurture entirely new governments, against great odds, and they’re not waiting for people to appoint themselves leaders to effect that change.

    The difference here is that the union structure already exists, and accessing it just takes a little personal, anonymous courage.

    By the way, I’m confused by the statement “They (unions) raise power and money and employ thousands to accomplish this.” TAG, for example, has a staff of 6 people (including receptionist and 401(k) administrator) to represent several thousand people. The ONLY power a union like TAG has is the collective will of its members. The leaders of a union do not have that power — they act on the will of their members.

    And the idea that a union like the IA or TAG can wield power though money is a little much. From what I’ve seen of TAG, the money that comes in goes right back out into member services (retraining and education, paying salaries of the people who serve the members, etc.).

    A few of your other questions have easy answers. The initiation fee for TAG is two weeks of the minimum salary in your job classification, and is usually paid off over time (unions like SAG and the WGA have vastly larger initiation fees). That’s a one-time fee, by the way, and it is COMPLETELY WAIVED if you’re working at a place when it votes to go union. Ongoing dues vary by job class, and range from about $70-100 per quarter.

    How do you sign up without fear? You sign a confidential rep card. When enough of your coworkers do the same, there’s usually a secret ballot to confirm the union interest, and if that is successful, the union begins negotiations to secure a union contract. For the individual worker, it’s all completely anonymous.

    I agree that new ways of thinking need to be in play, but I also think that for VFX artists to think that they, of all the people working throughout the entertainment industry, need a completely different model is overstating the case. There are a wide variety of union models, and we can pick and choose what aspects we prefer.

    • Dave Rand says:

      Thanks so much for expressing your thoughts and your right I should clarify a few points but I don’t want to start a long argument with an anonymous union member. The power of attorney statement is a reference to a recent letter circulated at a local LA studio that used those exact terms. I noticed Jimmy did not comment on that but i will ask him, as I said I’m no expert and I don’t want to be speaking out of bounds. I certainly don’t want to scare anyone away so thanks for pointing that out.

      There can never be too much weight on the importance of leaders especially if we are to start this venture so late in the game. It’s critical. I’ll stand by that one.

      Leadership was very apparent in Egypt, and not by one person but by many even those that initiated websites and chose locations for protest. My use of the video was more and example of the power of the internet in facilitating communication and unity, I guess it depends on which news source you follow or believe in. Historically all rebellions had leaders, I think we can agree on that and I don’t think the announced “drive” in variety by IATSE’s president was meant to imply anything less. I don’t think he word “drive” implies we would all spontaneously combust into union members with some activation energy for those announcing a drive.

      Yes TAG has a small crew mainly because that is all that is needed for a small union. One of my points is that many have stated they truly wish TAG had grown and kept pace with the industry. I have trouble blaming artists here. The other unions in the entertainment industry did not grow because actors, editors, writers, and directors are “different” kinds of people than fx artists. I think my context was clear there, I was not talking about just TAG or just IATSE when I used the word “unions” in the statement because l’m talking about all unions and yes they employ thousands and they are pretty much all about power and money at their core. If used correctly is enhances the lives of everyone involved, members and union employees.

      The writer’s strike is a great recent example of how much power though money can be attained. That’s what gets hollywood’s attention. They did resolve their differences because the studio execs missed going to the movies. it was ALL about money and power. I don’t think we need to go further with that one.

      The easy answers should all be posted. IATSE should have had this info on a website as part of their “year and a half of laying the groundwork” please it’s 2011 not 1940. The average fx artists has little knowledge of any of this.
      Thanks for posting those answers though Union Member.

      One of the ways I try to dispel fear is by posting my real name under every post. I’ve been doing this since we started the campaign to get the 1.3 million back from the American Studios Discovery and Evergreen for our work and delivery of the film Journey to the Center of the Earth. I’ve never once been blacklisted or had any trouble finding work. We are rare commodities. The talent pool will not be able to keep up with the ever expanding need for stunning digital imagery. I’m surrounded by 12 accents every day and none of them are local. Our human genome is not pumping out more talented artists than it was 500 yrs ago yet the demand will continue to expand exponentially. So I’m calling on some other brave artists to start posting their names. This is not a dig, it a helpful practice and I’m just trying to enlighten some of us to it and I will begin posting it regularly.

      Thanks again for taking the time to add to the discussion, I will post an answer from IATSE or ask to post a clear definition of what a union card really is legally and I will continue to read and supply links to more union history and information.

      I’ll close with recommending a few great books:

      The Jungle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle

      Tom Sito wrote “Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson”

      Michael Angelo and the Pope’s Ceiling
      http://www.mostlyfiction.com/history/king.htm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: