Friday, March 11, 2011

Reminder: Meeting for LA VFX artists on Sunday

As we posted about earlier this week, Jim Goodman will be holding a picnic meeting for all visual effects artists at Johnny Carson Park at 1:pm this Sunday the 13th of March.

In his message to all interested parties, Jim made the following request:

The IATSE is specifically inviting visual effects artists working at Warner Bros., Disney, NBC/Universal, Stargate, and all independent visual effects studios in the San Fernando Valley/Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena area. Artists working at the six major motion picture studios should be aware that by signing a union authorization card, and the IATSE achieving majority status at your employer, the IATSE BASIC AGREEMENT would automatically go into effect. That's why we really want to see YOU there.

The IATSE is interested in speaking to any and all interested parties. Everyone is welcome to bring their questions and concerns and meet Jim to find answers. Feel free to send him an email at

You can find the location of the park on a Google map at this link.


Anonymous said...

I wish my comments hadn't been moderated out of this post as the iatse mail addresses seem to not be working at all.

Anonymous said...

Oh, good. Maybe it was a technical glitch before when I was posting here. Here is the letter I attempted to send to Jim Goodman and some ideas I hope people will be willing to think about and discuss.

Hello Mr. Goodman,

My question for IATSE which probably is something that should be brought up if it hasn't been brought up is how will unemployed VFX workers (quite a few these days) become a part of or benefit from IATSE representation? Will there be the stipulation that in order to become an IATSE member another member MUST vouch for you? To be completely honest I've found that policy to be the single most restrictive/oppressive force against hiring of qualified people in all of cinema. I've overheard and talked to a couple of IATSE members, for cinema, that were grips, drivers etc. that had their membership vouched for by friends or family members and they walked into a good paying IATSE supported cinema job having a high school diploma. On the other hand I know scores of people that finished four year degrees for film production that would have killed to have any kind of decent paying job in cinema vs. working at the Cheesecake factory, the Melting Pot, McDonald's etc but they had no option to work in the industry because they couldn't be "Grandfathered in" to the industry and they weren't an IATSE member's brother, cousin, aunt, nephew, niece, girlfriend, boyfriend, mistress etc.

With VFX being an even more University education specialized trade broken down into many speciality areas and knowing how IATSE operates in other areas, regarding their membership policies it doesn't really give me much hope for the kind of fairness and justice unions are intended to bring about.

I think it's important enough to even post a part of an article that was written that described the general "culture" of some unions that has existed since the beginning of unionized work and still exists.

"Insidious discrimination has flourished in the union hiring halls. Unions in the construction industry have been granted special privileges under the labor laws to operate exclusive hiring halls and referral arrangements to supply labor on construction projects. The hiring-hall arrangements in building trades labor agreements limit employers to hiring individuals referred by the union. Unfortunately, discrimination prevents many minorities from ever becoming union members in the first place, which deprives them of training in apprenticeship programs and, ultimately, of jobs."

-Robert P. Hunter

Steven Kaplan said...

Anon -

Wonderful piece of fear mongering. I noticed you brought the same point up on VFX Soldier's blog at this link.

I'll ask you the same question you were posed there, where is it you're getting your information regarding membership? Have you spoken to any members of the IATSE? Have you spoken to any members of Local 839?

Membership into any of the locals today is granted by virtue of employment at a location where the IATSE has a contractual agreement. That is the case with Local 839 and will certainly be the case for the VFX Guild.

Do you have any other concerns that we can allay?

Anonymous said...

This anonymous person is using mangled misinformation from other unions to spread the fear that a VFX union would be somehow 'exclusive' and would keep good people out. Of course TAG has never worked that way, but the fear persists among the ignorant.

Either VFX members need to become part of TAG (the simplest and best solution) or they need to form a union modeled after TAG. And in TAG, there have NEVER been hiring halls and rosters and the need for someone to 'vouch for' anyone else. This nonsense about the false need to be 'grandfathered in' to an entertainment union is the sure sign you're dealing with either an extremely naive person, or a management troll.

Steven Kaplan said...

Agreed .. 100%. But, not answering or identifying them as a troll without providing a response furthers the Fear to those reading.

Unfortunately, looking back at the history of the IATSE will show that this practice was common among some locals. That practice and similar mentality is long gone.

Steven Kaplan said...

As for what vfx artists should do, The Animation Guild fully supports the IATSE's efforts for a national VFX Guild. We look forward to continuing to work with Jim Goodman and the international in supporting the organization efforts of visual effects artists and signing visual effects studios to the IATSE Basic Agreement.

Anonymous said...

A few comments and then Kaplan's typical, "Unions are great" boiler plate. If you judge the momentum of a cause by the volume of postings the movement to unionize the VFX biz is dying of apathy.

Anonymous said...

The anonymous above is the same tool who posts this same message compulsively. Dude, do you simply not have a life, or does management pay you to troll? My bet it's some of both. Get a life, loser.

Jeff Massie said...

There was a time when applications for IATSE membership were supposed to be signed by three other members of the local the applicant was joining.

This requirement was voted down by the IA at its 1976 convention. Why do I know this date so precisely? Because one of the last of the old three-signature application forms to be filed from Local 839 was submitted by yours truly, signed by Jim Carmichael, Moe Gollub, and Nancy Massie (my mother, who'd been a charter member of Local 841 in NYC).

More to the point, no one was ever denied membership in TAG because their application lacked the signatures. (Typically an unsigned application was handed around during E-Board for random signatures.)

The point is, once the anti-union brigade latches onto an excuse to slag unions they never let it go. Why discuss the realities of workers' rights when you can hide behind obsolete excuses?

Steven Kaplan said...

Anon 1:02 -

Just for you .. Fox News opinion piece on Unions and how they affect our lives.


Anonymous said...


Maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that Anon 1:02 was stating that very few posts are ever made here on 839's blog when the heading concerns the VFX areas attempts to unionize. Clearly he/she appears to have a non-union bent that I do not share but that does not stop him from being right on this one.

Anonymous said...

The above poster tried to make the case that the momentum and interest among VFX workers for a union is directly proportional to the number of comments on blog posts here related to that issue.

This is a transparent attempt to create a false linkage. It's a childish idea, put forward by an anti-union troll. And it's false. The posts here about unionization have often generated many, many responses, and I've personally had conversations at work that were triggered by those posts (and those engaged in the conversation were never among the commenters here).

F. X. Artist said...

It would be great if an FX artist union could happen, but the odds are huge against it. There are so many companies, and new ones popping up all the time. Back in the days when motion picture unions were first formed there were a limited amount of studios to deal with. Movies nowadays farm out their FX shots, and usually to multiple vendors.

The only way to get unionization is to somehow force movie producers to hire only union FX people, just like they do with their on-set crew. If IATSE can accomplish that it can happen. Otherwise forget it.

Anonymous said...

I love how someone can post a dissenting opinion and just get slammed because some people disagree. The point is this is information gathered from overhearing conversations and you can disagree all you like it doesn't change what heard. If the information I got was inaccurate great. If the policies are changed great, but I'm not going to act like I didn't hear what I heard.

The other thing that concerns me again falls to the question "What is IATSE doing to help the multitude of unemployed VFX workers in the U.S.?" The fact that IATSE moved to create VFX unions in California and Vancouver simultaneously time leads me to believe that they're totally fine with all of the U.S. layoffs, closures and are only interested in increasing their membership numbers. I don't see how that's going to help the U.S. VFX industry any time soon. If even more work moves to Vancouver IATSE still wins and US VFX workers are left in the dust.

Anonymous said...

I love how someone can post a dissenting opinion and just get slammed because some people disagree.

So your panties are in a bunch because you passed on some complete misinformation that you overheard. And you're somehow proud of that.

In this world, you're either part of the problem, or part of the solution. Trumpeting misinformation makes you part of the problem.

The other thing that concerns me again falls to the question "What is IATSE doing to help the multitude of unemployed VFX workers in the U.S.?"

So wait -- VFX artists aren't yet willing to unionize, but you expect the IATSE to do something for unemployed VFX workers???

Here's a news flash. A union can only represent employees. It cannot represent people who aren't working.

Here's a second news flash. No union is going to keep work located in one vicinity. Work is going out of California because other countries offer subsidies, and because in some locations VFX workers will accept much lower salaries. No union is going to change that.

This is another anti-union gambit. No matter how much good a union might do for working VFX artists, someone like you will proclaim it a waste because it cannot guarantee employment for everyone. Nice trick, but we see through it.

Anonymous said...

So essentially the union's first and most important cause is raising money for itself...That's all you had to say.

The point I'm making about the IATSE playing both sides of the fence is important, because it honestly looks like more of an opportunist excursion than one that's genuinely good for the whole of the industry. The ONLY reason there's ANY discussion of unionizing at this point is because the constant loss of work and broad reshaping of the industry that leaves US VFX workers looking to other industries, professions to make a serious living to survive. If even suggesting methods, strategies, comprehensive plans on how to stop the massive job loss in the US is not chief among any Union's priorities than unionizing, at this stage of game, shouldn't be chief among VFX workers priorities.

Sure there may be great benefits to unionizing in healthy stable job markets, but those benefits aren't addressing real problems in a completely unstable and degrading job market. To me it just seems like IATSE wants to get into the pockets/pocketbooks of the remaining US VFX artists before the next round of cuts, wish them the best after they get their pink slips and thank them for their support. I don't see how that's all that productive for the industry right now.

Anonymous said...

So essentially the union's first and most important cause is raising money for itself...That's all you had to say.

Another transparent blog troll gambit -- ignore everything that's actually been written, and 'summarize' the discussion in completely dishonest terms.

The ONLY reason there's ANY discussion of unionizing at this point is because the constant loss of work

Another dishonest summary statement. So now you speak for every single VFX artist who is potentially interested in unionization? As one of those VFX artists, I know that a union cannot close down outsource studios. I'm interested in overtime protections, in portable health and pension benefits, in getting credit for my work, and in having an organization I can turn to when a studio is trying to screw me. From talking with a lot of friends, they put a premium on the same issues. But you go ahead and create straw-man arguments.

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