By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Cinematographers, motionpicture editors, sound engineers and the rest of the 15 IATSE Hollywood Locals have now voted to ratify the 2009-2012 Basic Agreement negotiated with the AMPTP. Some of the votes wound up as nail biters. Some passed easily. But IATSE leaders have been sweating it out and even lobbying in my blog’s comments section to plead the Vote Yes case and debate with members who joined an unusually vocal Vote No campaign.
January and February saw a lot of push-back from all the various IATSE Hollywood Guild members, and even board members, angry over the IATSE/AMPTP tentative contract. I first disclosed the terms of the negotiated pact over Thanksgiving weekend, even before union leaders had bothered providing details to members. The most controversial rollback is that, effective July 31, 2001, the health plan will require 400 hours of work per six-month period to qualify for coverage, instead of the current 300 hours. Even the union reps admitted 7 to 15 percent of the various guild members will lose their insurance.
It’s little wonder then that the individual guilds that make up IATSE had trouble spinning this to members. Several “No 400 Hours” Web sites started up, including www.400hours.com, and two on Facebook.
And suddenly, circulating among the membership were e-mails opposing the contract, like this one: “IATSE Members from many of the locals are banning [sic] together for the first time, as a collective, to fight the proposed AMPTP contract. ... The increase of 400 hours will cause over 3,500 members to lose their health insurance. The New Media provision terms weaken our Union’s Basic Agreement and open the door to major losses in every Local of hourly rates and working conditions. Remember, what you give away today, you are not likely to get back ever.”
Informational meetings held by the IATSE guild leadership grew increasingly angry and nasty. The Guild leaders began using their Web sites to post “Vote Yes” testimonials, like this one from the International Cinematographers Guild IATSE Local 600’s national executive board member John Toll: “400 hours? Let’s face it. It sucks, but what are our options? Voting ‘no’? Even if all IATSE locals voted against ratification, then what?”
But they didn’t. See you in three years. In the meantime, I wouldn’t want to be you.
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