Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Orlando - Day Three

We all sat down in the meeting hall promptly at 10:00 ... and just as promptly were asked to leave as the IA Executive Board went into closed session (usual this means that the board is adjudicating a dispute between two -- or more? -- IA locals. But I didn't ask what the closed session was about, so never found out.)

The most pertinent report for IA Los Angeles locals in this session was the organizing that has gone on non-stop over the past fifteen years, and that the IA now has wall-to-wall contracts with cable producers, HBO, commercial producers, and a spate of music videos. And the IA has signed its first contract for an internet series ...

All these various contracts have given the IATSE a lot more leverage than it had when I started business reping in the early nineties. In those days, the IA had minimal coverage in cable ... also low-budget features ... also commercials. And high-end features like Driving Miss Daisy and Dances with Wolves were "non-union" features, as far as the IATSE was concerned.


Today, the IA has regained its grip on movie and television work, which means that a lot of health and pension hours have flowed into IA pension plans. Why is this important? Because television series on the east and west coasts are now shut down, so no hours into the plans. IA President Tom Short noted: "If we hadn't had all those hours most of last year and the years before, we could be in deep trouble."

The Writers' strike hangs over the proceedings. It's what IA reps talk about out in the hall, at lunch, at the hosted party last night in the hotel. Several reps think the the WGA strike will end (or unravel) two to four weeks after the DGA makes a deal. Everybody seems pretty confident the Directors Guild will nail down a new contract, and soon.

But -- unless I've missed the story in Wednesday's news -- it hasn't happened yet.


Anonymous said...

Like you say, I think the AMPTP went into this thinking hard about the exact number that the DGA would accept on Internet that is less than the writers and actors can accept financially, but large enough to try to inspire backbiting.

So far, they've underestimated the writers. I worry that it's going to happen again and this is going to drag on until the Corporations reach their drop-dead date.

I wish they gave a damn about anybody. But that's not their job. It wasn't J.P. Morgan's job. It wasn't John D. Rockefeller's job. And it's not these guys' job either. Their job is to get each of us to do as much work as possible for as little as possible, and our job is to prevent them from doing that. Whatever union we're in.

Jeff Massie said...

Another reason the Board goes into executive session is if they're hearing appeals, either from members appealing fines or suspensions or disagreements about something the IA President has ruled on. In any event, whatever they're meeting about, it all comes out in the minutes.

Anonymous said...

While the WGA's decision to strike last fall may have been a poor choice in timing, I think that some sort of move had to be made in regard to creator's rights, and the potential for profit the internet has to offer.

(Sort of like the struggle that went on when video tape came out, no?)

And then there's the issue of 'net neutrality...

Steve Hulett said...

I've said this before, but the WGA will end up achieving what it has the leverage to achieve.

Morality, justice, right or wrong don't enter into it too much.

IA President Short, rightly or wrongly, thinks that Verrone and Young are bad negotiators.

I guess we'll find out.

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