fxpodcast: Visual Effects Guild – the IATSE interview

IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts) represents most of the below the line crew on a feature film. The IA announced their intention to organize visual effects artists in an open letter to the Visual Effects Society on November 11, 2010, but until now have refused all requests for interviews and did not even have a web site.

Peter Marley
In this exclusive interview with fxguide Peter Marley, International Representative for the IA discusses why the IA feels the time is right for a Visual Effects Guild. We discuss portable benefits, pension, residuals, the process of organizing and take a look at efforts going on now to organize.

The IA has launched a web site to present information and begin a more direct dialogue with artists:


4 thoughts on “fxpodcast: Visual Effects Guild – the IATSE interview”

  1. I’m all for it. That’s a fact. I gathered up all the signed cards from the guys/girls at work and brazenly sent them out through Imageworks’ mail-room. We are not afraid.

    We do, however, interface with SPA employees daily, who aren’t all that enthused about that which is promised: While we still get our sick days, paid holidays, etc., they do not.

    Portable health care is a huge draw for the down-times… Let’s be honest though. The ‘protection’ promised by this union (and PAID FOR by it’s members) isn’t all that impressive. Disney and Dreamworks employees end up being dumped almost as frequently as we are these days. Do their union benefits (and dues) make it all that worth it?

    When the union shows some sack on bargaining, I’ll be more inclined to do the bare minimum in seeking a movement at Imageworks… our SPA neighbors aren’t exactly enthused.


    1. Hello Anon/Jim Gilhooley –

      I’m glad to hear you’re so supportive that you were willing to use the Sony mailroom to mail the signed representation cards. I appreciate you taking the time to voice some of your concerns.

      I’m surprised to hear that SPA employees “aren’t enthused”. Are you saying that SPI employees get sick days and paid holidays? I haven’t heard that from any SPI employee before, but that’s not to say its not true. While I’d have to check on the specifics for sick days, SPA employees are contractually obligated to Vacation Days as described on page 42 of the TSL/SPA agreement.

      Next, you’ve denigrated unionization and further attempted to invoke some fear and doubt by calling in the dues and fees union members pay by comparing this protection to the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health plans. Not a very gentlemanly tactic.

      The protection that Mr. Marley spoke of comes from the enforcement of the collectively bargained contract. That contract is made using the cohesive voice of all the employees in the unit, exponentially increasing the strength and weight of that voice. Those contracts include workplace conditions and standards that absolutely protect the artists. Those contracts do not keep an employer from ending a work relationship with an artist when the project is finished. Is that something you’d like to see in a union contract? Permanent employment clauses? Do you really see that as something feasible in a work contract?

      Sac on bargaining? Well, its now obvious you haven’t read what the IATSE was able to achieve in their recent contract negotiations with the AMPTP. Feel free to read the press releases as well as commentary from industry outlets on the IATSE’s website page posted about the 2012 contract negotiations. Be sure to pay particular attention to the Health and Pension agreements which impact each and every SPA artist.

      As always, feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns.

      Steve Kaplan
      Labor Organizer
      The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE
      [email protected]

  2. Steve,

    There are a couple things that I’d like to mention since last post:

    1) My usual 4% annual bump at Imageworks has become half of that- 2% this new year, which for me began in July. I fought it tooth and nail, and in the end I was finally provided with not only a ‘best we’re willing to do’ but more importantly a ‘why’ by an overly honest HR representative: If it’s good enough for our SPA union employees, it’s good enough for you. Hmmm. Does that really cover inflation / cost of living in Los Angeles each year? My research says ‘no’. This was something the guild voted on this past year and claimed as a victory.

    2) Despite my filling out a union-card questionnaire affirmatively and sending it in (along with other co-workers cards), only one of the five or so of us Imageworks employees received any further correspondence from IATSE. We were only made aware of the Culver Hotel event by word of mouth and tuning in to VFX Soldier and the IATSE website. I’m complaining because that one person who DID receive correspondence, confided that he felt individualized, rather than empowered, once he realized he was singled-out.

    It should be noted that my pessimism is based on my interest in unionizing, but that I’m looking for more than just an active blog and idealism. Show me the money! (above the cost of living).

    Anon/Jim – 87th %

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