Tuesday, November 23, 2010

IATSE Wins Big

The Biggest Winners: Crew of the reality show The Biggest Loser stand with IATSE VP Mike Miller, IATSE VP Thom Davis, Local 600 Exec. Dir. Bruce Doering, DP Vanessa Holtgrewe and Local Business Representatives after unanimously ratifying their first union contract with the show's producers on Monday morning.

We did it! Yesterday morning, the crew of The Biggest Loser voted unanimously to ratify a deal with the show's producers that includes health care contributions.

This is a huge victory for the IATSE and the courageous crew that stuck together and toughed it out on the picket line despite the staunch refusal of the producers to even negotiate at first.

On Friday, IATSE International President Matt Loeb flew in from Japan to join the picket line and get negotiations going. Over the next three days, IATSE VP Mike Miller led the union's negotiating team, which included the show's Director of Photography Vanessa Holtgrewe. Together they spent more than 40 hours bargaining with the producers, standing fast against every argument the three production companies had against signing a union contract. In the end, their determination won the day and the crew of The Biggest Loser will now have access to health insurance for themselves and their families.
Vanessa was instrumental in making this deal happen. Her leadership not only inspired the crew, she was also one of the key members of the IATSE negotiating team. "I have never seen a Director of Photography stand behind her crew with this much energy," Miller said of her. "So, Vanessa, we thank and you I'm sure your crew thanks you, too."

That kind of commitment and solidarity is what our union is all about. More than 100 Local 600 members joined our staff and the members and staff of other IATSE Locals to make this happen. Thank you to everyone who braved the cold, pre-dawn hours and the rain to spend time on the picket line. I was proud to join you. Together we made a difference. This contract sends a clear message to the industry that reality shows should and will be union work in the future. So if you are on one of these non-union shoots, email or call a business rep. We can turn these productions so that every job brings us our deserved benefits and working conditions.

HBO Contract

The Biggest Loser isn't the IATSE's only recent contract victory. Some of you have already heard that IATSE has forged a breakthrough agreement with HBO. Until these negotiations, despite its increase in productions and profits in recent years, HBO refused to pay wages that were on par with either the Basic Agreement for west-coast work or the Local Unions Majors Agreement for east-coast productions. This year, President Loeb changed that. He sat down at the table with HBO and managed to wrangle a deal that will bring HBO wages up to par with these existing deals in three years. This January, HBO will offer a 4.5 percent wage increase on the west coast and a 3.5 percent on the east coast. In January of 2012, the company will reduce the gap between its wages and the Basic Agreement/Local Unions Majors Agreement by 33 percent. In 2013, it will reduce the gap by an additional 33 percent, and by the fourth year of the deal, wages will be equal to what the other major producers pay.
Commercial Contract

Our new commercial contract also went into effect on November 1. This agreement increases producers' contributions to our health plans by at least 70 percent and gives us an immediate two percent wage increase. Commercial producers will contribute an additional $1.50 an hour towards hourly contributions this year. That figure will increase by 50 cents in 2011 and an additional $1.00 in 2012. The deal calls for commercial producers to contribute at least $3.00 an hour over the amount paid by major producers who pay residuals. The full memorandum is posted on the website.

These victories show that despite the recession, the leadership of President Loeb and the unity among IATSE Locals give us the power to better our lives. As we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, I will be thankful that I am a part of this union and have thousands of Sisters and Brothers willing to fight to protect our jobs and our future.


Steven Poster, ASC
ICG Local 600 National President

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a member of local 44 as a Set Dresser. I am so happy to hear this great news. I was so tired of settling for an HBLOW rate deal! I would jump on the show only to be looking for a SCALE deal. Its about time! So glad TOM SHORT is gone. he was once quoted as saying "we will never have a basic agreement with HBO" Shame on him!