IATSE Local 891 will be at the grand opening of CG Masters School of 3D Animation and Visual Effects, March 9, 10am – 4pm. The grand opening ceremony is at 11am followed by mini-classes, presentations, refreshments, door prizes and industry contacts.

We will have a table with representatives on hand to answer your questions about who we are, what we do, and how you can join.

The school is easily accessed by public transit on SkyTrain.

From Vancouver:

Get off at the New Westminster Station, walk out of the gate and turn left.  You’ll be in front of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.  The academy is 4 doors to the left. 

From Surrey or Burnaby/Coquitlam:

Get off at the New Westminster Station, take the escalator down, cross to the other side and take the escalator up.  Look up for Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory and the academy is 4 doors to the left.


Park underground at #800 – 888 Carnarvon Street.  It’s a mall built around the New Westminster Skytrain at 8th street & Carnarvon.  Take escalators or elevator up to the platform level (P6).  Look up for Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory, the academy is 4 doors to the left.

Looking forward to meeting you.


Be The Change, Break The Cycle

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Kudos to all the artists and supporters who made it out to the rally on Sunday in the cold rain of Vancouver and the clear skies of Los Angeles. It was a tremendous display of solidarity; vfx artists caring for one another to better their working lives.

The question now is have you reached the tipping point? Or was this a one off and everyone has gone back to work toiling away creating awesome shots, still no security or benefits, no dignity or respect. Are you going to let the cycle repeat itself? Because it will.

As I met with artists on Sunday, I heard comments like:

The studios and shops need to appreciate us.

My company treats me really good I don’t need a union.

It’s not the companies fault it’s the broken business model.

If I join the union I will lose my job.

The artists at Rhythm and Hues didn’t have a union but they still lost their jobs. I bet they aren’t feeling too appreciated now that they are owed their pay checks. It wasn’t their fault they worked for a “broken business model”. What would their situation look like right now if they had lost their job in a unionized shop?

This is how it works for US IATSE members who lose their job when a company or production folds.

It’s similar in Canada, different laws, but overall it’s the portability of benefits and the security of having the union at your back so you don’t have to fight alone for what is owed you. It’s about dignity and respect.

We all need to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, take the kids to daycare, none of this is free. Organized people = organized power aka leverage.

Now ask yourself do you want to be the change that breaks the cycle? You marched on Sunday with your colleagues, have you talked to your co-workers today? How are they feeling? How are your colleagues across town doing? Maybe you weren’t able to get to the rally, that doesn’t stop you from reaching out, getting together to talk to one and another about being the change to break the cycle.

Together We Are Stronger = #vfxunite = #vfxunion

For artists in Canada:


IATSE Local 891

Dusty Kelly



IATSE Local 667

Christian Lemay



Julia Neville


For artists in USA


Vanessa Holtgrewe


The Animation Guild

Steve Kaplan


Posted: February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

How to form an inside committee, isn’t it time?


Hopelessness, futility, and apathy can be combated through strategic organizing. No one union leader or organizer can wave a magic wand and unionize a workplace. The YOUnion is YOU, VFX artists and technicians, who have come together to improve your working lives and professions. You believe collective action will empower you to better
your socioeconomic conditions, you also believe that it will better broader society now and for the future. You know that this will be hard work but you are committed to your cause and shared values.

The union is the united voice of the workers at each workplace. You, the artists and technicians are the YOUnion. You own your campaign and the union you are building. We, IATSE Local 891, are here to help you achieve your vision. We cannot make promises or guarantees however we can assist your cause to have your voice heard through…

View original post 631 more words

Dear VFX Soldier

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear VFX Soldier:

I will be out at the Art Galley in Vancouver today joining VFX artists who are rallying in support of bringing awareness to the working conditions for VFX artists.

But I have to question your recent post. So this protest is all about film subsidies in British Columbia? I thought it was about rising up in solidarity for workers who are given no dignity or respect and are left without a pension and a paycheque, no health plan no support services for themselves and their families, working on product that generates billions of box-office dollars for the Studios (Warner Bros., Sony, etc) worldwide?

Abolishing film subsidies or even the leveling of the subsidy playing field will not result in shorter work days, overtime pay, health and retirement benefits.

Your film subsidy talking points are exaggerated and grossly oversimplify a complex issue. You continue to disproportionally target British Columbia thereby stirring up cross border animosity. Not everyone wants to work in Southern California. Its a global business.

– US domestic box office is routinely outstripped by foreign box office numbers.

– The $437 million dollar figure is not what it seems. Production companies have up to 30 months to claim a tax credit. At which time they may be claimed at anytime during that period. This budget figure is a guestimate based on what was booked, not claimed, and projected claims. I suggest you call the Finance Ministry for the analysis of the figures. Its not black and white, which is why it doesn’t fit nicely into a soundbite.

– VFX workers are not at a 60% subsidy rate. Labour performed by nonresident VFX artists is not eligible. If you live in Toronto or LA and come to Vancouver to work on a project your salary is not tax creditable.

– A WTO challenge will do nothing about tax incentives stateside

– A WTO challenge will take years in the courts and untold dollars lining the pockets of lawyers all for an unforeseeable outcome, a risky gambit.

– Columbia Tristar is owned by a giant Japanese corporation.

But I digress.

What is doable today tomorrow and next month is taking control of what you want your job to look like. Do you want healthcare, do you want overtime pay, do you want an indexed raise, do you want a credit? The WTO will not give you these. Only you can take action and organize yourselves to demand through collective bargaining what every other motion picture production worker, artist, technician, craftsperson has, a collective agreement.

Have fun today but bear in mind the public cares more about you as a person getting screwed out of healthcare and proper pay and the expensive movie tickets than tax credits in Louisiana, New York, London, Australia and yes British Columbia.

Together We Are Stronger

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.

Talking about unionizing…

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Union organizers in British Columbia have limitations on the types of activities they can participate in when organizing a union at a workplace. The following is excerpted from the British Columbia Labour Code, Rights, Duties and Unfair Labour Practices:

7. Limitation on Activities of Trade Unions: Except with the employer’s consent, a trade unon or person acting on its behalf must not attempt, at the employer’s place of employment during working hours, to persuade an employee of the employer to join or not join a trade union.

This prevents organizers from contacting you in your workplace on company time whether by email or phone. However, we can talk with your before your work day, on your breaks, at lunch/dinner time and after work hours. You can contact us before your work day, on your breaks, at lunch/dinner time, and after work hours. You can discuss forming a union with your co-workers before your work day begins, during your breaks, at lunch/dinner time, or after work hours. However, you should never use your employers’ equipment for non work related activity; do not use their computers, telephones, printers, etc. to communicate about joining a union unless you have their permission to do so.

8. Right to Communicate: A person has the freedom to express his or her views on any matter, including matters relating to an employer, a trade union or the represenation of employees by a trade union , provided that the person does not use intimidation or coercion.

9. Coercion and intimidation prohibited.

You are free to talk and debate about joining a union with the union organizers and with your co-workers at anytime except for when you are working. Your employer and supervisors must not threaten you with loss of employment, demote you, discipline you, or discriminate against you for discussing, promoting, or joining a union. If you are experiencing intimidation and/or bullying in your work place because you want a union please contact us to discuss, just not during working hours 😉

We will be resuming union information sessions, time and place TBA. Alternatively, if you and your colleagues want to meet during your lunch hour, before or after work, or on the weekend let us know and we can make arrangements. Email or

Enjoy, you earned it!

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Labour/Labor Day: A Day of Rest

Today’s day of rest has been brought to you by the Union Movement. Collective action by workers in both Canada and the US led all provincial and state governments to enact legislation celebrating workers’ contribution to their countries. In Canada the 1872 Typographical Union strike for a maximum 58 hr work week and in the US the 1894 Pullman strike over low wages and 16 hour work days are generally seen as the catalysts leading to the creation of this statutory holiday. In both countries, workers were under pressure to work more, be paid less. In both countries Unions provided workers with the power of collective action to better their socioeconomic conditions.

Happy Labour Day, I hope you are enjoying this earned day of rest.


Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in Canada since the 1880s. The origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to December 1872 when a parade was staged in support of the Toronto Typographical Union’s strike for a 58-hour work-week.[1] The Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA) called its 27 unions to demonstrate in support of the Typographical Union who had been on strike since March 25.[1] George Brown, Canadian politician and editor of the Toronto Globe hit back at his striking employees, pressing police to charge the Typographical Union with “conspiracy.”[1] Although the laws criminalising union activity were outdated and had already been abolished in Great Britain, they were still on the books in Canada and police arrested 24 leaders of the Typographical Union. Labour leaders decided to call another similar demonstration on September 3 to protest the arrests. Seven unions marched in Ottawa, prompting a promise by Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to repeal the “barbarous” anti-union laws.[1] Parliament passed the Trade Union Act on June 14 the following year, and soon all unions were demanding a 54-hour work-week”read more


“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” read more