Home > Election 2010, Local 600 Jobs, Progress? > The Reality Check Is In The Mail

The Reality Check Is In The Mail

May 3, 2010

Dear Local 600 Member:

You’ve probably just received a notice from the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan that the Plan is in “endangered” status. Mine arrived, ironically, on the same day as the latest campaign mailer from Steven Poster proclaimed, “Continue the Progress.”

Many West Coast members were also notified this week that they are about to be dropped from the Industry Roster, putting them in a Catch-22 limbo and severely endangering their ability to continue to work on the ever-dwindling number of union productions.

If this is “progress”, I’d hate to see the Poster Slate’s definition of failure.

Since our industry is once again breaking box office records and raking up profits faster than they can be counted, where exactly is the money going?

FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

When our jobs left the country, the residuals that help pay for our pension and health plans left with them.  The formula for residuals allows the studios to deduct 80% of their profit from home video sales. (After 30+ years, this is still considered an experimental market!) Of the remaining 20%, the crew shares 5.4% or about one cent of every dollar. This one cent is further reduced by the percentage of non-qualifying crew members.

$100 million in DVD profits on a picture with a 100% qualifying crew would drop $1,080,000 into the Plan.

That same movie with only 20% qualifying crew members would only put $216,000 into the Plan. No wonder it’s going broke.

This is why more than a few of us were concerned when Steven Poster made a phone call into a Western Regional Council meeting last year from the lobby of the hotel in Vancouver where he was shooting yet another “runaway” production.   

It is important to understand that the Poster regime didn’t just ignore runaway production – they actively prevented your union from challenging it. Because the IATSE actually MAKES MONEY by organizing jobs that travel to Canada, they encouraged it.

This alone would be a great reason to remove these people from elected office — but there is so much more.

Poster & Co. are also championing a referendum that will remove California corporate status — ending protection and oversight guarantees for members, the board, and the officers of your Union. As you have seen, there were no “Pro” and “Con” positions presented to you — only a “green” ballot wrapped in the company line.

As with all other areas within Local 600, dissenting opinions are not allowed. No letters from the membership are printed in Camera Angles.

And President Poster will not entertain any New Business items at a board meeting unless they have been submitted in writing in advance and meet with his approval. This has very effectively silenced many voices – maybe even yours.

MEMBERS REMOVED FROM INDUSTRY ROSTER

West Coast members are now feeling the pinch of language inserted into the last contract that will remove them from the Industry Experience Roster — even if they’ve been working for over 30 years in the business. Where was your current leadership when this language was written? Screaming bloody murder? Warning members about their status? Organizing members to protest? No, they were quietly submitting to yet another attack on the livelihood of members. They call that being a team player. Why do members always have to take one for the team?

ARE YOU BETTER OFF NOW THAN YOU WERE FOUR YEARS AGO?

Steven Poster and his gang have been in office for four years now. By all measurable standards, they have presided over a major decline in our wages and working conditions.

Your leaders have artfully turned a trade union into a trade school. But playing with new cameras serves no purpose without new jobs on which to use them.

Isn’t it curious the Jobs Committee — on which I previously served — was the first casualty of the Poster Administration?

Please take time to read up on all the issues and cast an informed VOTE in this election.

Tim McHugh

Western Region Operator, NEB-Alternate

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