Fear Mongering and Misinformation

Posted: June 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

In the past week an article written by Ivan Hayden, former President of the now defunct Visual Effects Association of BC, the VEA(BC), has been re-circulating.

The article was written in February 2009. It is obsolete and is not relevant to the current climate. Its content is anecdotal relying on second hand opinions. I contacted Hayden to clarify IATSE Local 891’s jurisdiction of VFX work and communicated the same in subsequent meetings of the VFX community in Vancouver.

As a result of an application to certify the in-house VFX team on Battlestar Galactica series, IATSE Local 891 and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) negotiated an agreement that recognized certain VFX and CGI work was now covered under the collective agreement. VFX now joined the other 21 crafts that IATSE Local 891 represents. The artists and technicians who were being employed directly by the production The Hole did not realize that their jobs were no longer non-union. Understandably there was confusion as this was the first production where VFX would be within IATSE 891’s jurisdiction.

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) formerly the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association (CFTPA) had at the time of commencement of production not fully signed off, and it was true details of the agreement were still being worked out. However, the CMPA did finally agree and formally signed in the Spring of 2009. The producers of The Hole were negotiating concessions from the unions due to the escalating non-budgeted costs for now filming in 3D. Perhaps the alleged negative remarks were in response to IATSE Local 891’s resolve to get the best deal for their members.

No one has been or is forced to join IATSE Local 891. If a VFX artist or VFX technician is not a member they can still be “permitted” to work. However, membership is a requirement to access coverage under the Union’s benefit plan. As is done with all other crafts under 891’s umbrella, what is known colloquially as dues check off is collected and it can be deducted on the member’s tax return. The union has a duty to represent all employees that are covered under the collective agreement whether they are union members or non-members. The dues go to pay for that administration amongst the many other benefits union membership provides. Some of the benefits IATSE 891′s members enjoy:

* A minimum rate of pay with ability to negotiate above scale
* Paid overtime
* Contract provisions that exceed the B.C. Employment Standards Act
* Access to grievance and arbitration in case of dispute
* Employer funded Health Benefits Plan
* Employer retirement savings contributions
* Family Services Employee Assistance Program
* Training and scholarships
* Union savings for lower rates on mortgages, banking and cellular service
* Actors Fund emergency assistance

Members of the IATSE 891 VFX department have not reported they are being discriminated against because they are members of the union, and many are currently working union and non-union. VFX production has steadily increased in Vancouver, significantly since 2009. The fear mongering in the article is without foundation. In addition those former Battlestar Galactica VFX employees who have maintained their union membership continue to work in the industry without recrimination.

Finally, the article ends with a pitch for membership fees for the VEA(BC). The VEA(BC) is no longer in existence ceasing official operations last year.

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