Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Negotiating Committee statements: #2 of 3

This contract negotiation was among one of 839’s toughest. The disdain by the companies across the negotiating table was palpable. And every TAG proposal that the conglomerates thought would kick up their costs was dead on arrival.

We had proposals for new job classifications. Proposals for shorter board tests, new writers’ rates, and extended schedules around holidays. We got stone-walled on all of them. And we had to fight to stay even with the IATSE Basic Agreement. We were offered a low-ball wage package, rejected it, and walked out. All of us had bile in our throats.

A month and a half later, we came back And finally, FINALLY we won the package that other IA locals received in March.

Despite the above, I urge members to vote “yes” on the new contract. Why?

1) Because there are big gains in the producers’ payments that go into our health and pension plans. The Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan.) Studios were paying $5 per hour under the old agreement. They’ll pay $6 per hour with the new one. This is almost a 20% bump in contributions, and for the first time in half a dozen years, TAG and the IA will get ahead of the galloping deficits that have hounded every union health and pension plan in Hollywood through contract after contract.

2) Because after a lot of sweat and sleepless nights, the committee achieved the top priority for the membership: 2%, 2%, 2% for wage increases, and parity with the Basic Agreement. (This sounds like “no big deal,” but three years ago, we were forced to take less. Wage increases are NOT automatic.)

I credit the dedication of the TAG negotiation committee and the support of the membership for making the “2% solution” happen this time. If this contract gets rejected, there is no guarantee that we’ll return to the bargaining table and achieve better, but a fair chance that we’ll get worse. After all the work people have put in, I don’t want that to happen.

So, again, I ask you to vote “yes” on the 2012-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

— Steve Hulett


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