As announced by Jeff Heusser of FX Guide, the IBEW held a meeting for visual effects artists in Burbank on Saturday evening.
I joined the Guild to bring a seamless cloak of health and pension benefits as well as the strength of collective action to the visual effects artists with whom I worked. Efforts to that end are of interest to me and why I attended the meeting ...
While there weren't many visitors Saturday evening, there were certainly some heavy hitters among the people at the tables. Veteran VFX Artist and Supervisor as well as co-founder of fxguide.com and Vice Chancellor of fxphd.com, Jeff Heusser and veteran visual effects supervisor Scott Squires (to name a couple.)
* It is important to note that Scott and Jeff both attended as voices of the community and not advocates of organization. Scott's blog is read and watched by many VFX artists and Jeff's interviews for the FX Guide podcast are extremely popular and get tens of thousands of downloads regularly.
The IBEW was approached by visual effects artists interested in representation and held this meeting to announce their availability as well as gain insight into the breadth and scope of the industry and what is at stake. The IBEW took the opportunity to discuss what benefits would be offered to VFX artists who organized with them. As it turns out, they too would be able to provide health and pension benefits through the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health plans. They also talked about their strengths as a union and cited their 726k+ membership and multiple contracts with the studios as selling points to their viability.
They also opened the floor to the artist present, asking what the biggest needs were. Almost resoundingly, the artists agreed that the portability of benefits within the organic and tentative nature of employment in the industry is of the utmost importance to them. Very little was mentioned about the ridiculously long hours they are asked to work or wages being to low. Most artists there agreed that the hours are what they are, and that most artists in visual effects are paid well.
I have heartfelt respect for my counterparts at the IBEW. As much as I feel TAG is a better fit for the visual effects artist, the truth of the matter is that any representation will benefit those artists. Their need for portable, employer-funded health and pension benefits as well as the strength of collectively bargained and actively monitored contracts is long overdue.
I can't help but smart a bit from the knowledge that my lack of public exposure and outreach is the cause for an outreach to a different organization. As much as I am proud of the artists for venturing out and seeking representation on their own, I also learn that my job now needs to include much broader outreach programs and education seminars.