Sunday, March 13, 2011

Union update

Today the union had an info meeting in Burbank and Vancouver.

If you have not attended an IATSE Union info meeting yet I would strongly suggest you contact the point person directly to get the details.  Jimmy Goodman can be contacted at
Just drop him an email to get your questions answered directly.  How does this work, what are the advantages, will this drive away production, how do the union benefits compare to your current benefits, etc.  Believe me, these are important issues even if you're just starting out.

They promise to have a website up in April with more info.  In the meantime check out the Animation Guild or VFX Soldier websites for more.  You can also check out other Union related postings on this blog.

I did get clarification as I thought that the IATSE is restricted to the US and Canada.

With a union you get health insurance coverage that covers multiple employers so when your project finishes and you start another one with another company all your health benefits continue (Assuming they're another union company).  You don't have to sign up for a new health insurance company that you may not even qualify to cover you in the time you're there.  Currently health benefits vary widely between companies. Some offer none and some offer reasonable deals but those are strictly if the company keeps you employed (difficult given the nature of much of vfx) and if you choose to stay there.  Some times these benefits are referred to as golden handcuffs since they tend to entice an employee to stay put rather than lose their benefits.  There will be times where you'll have to make that decision or if the company doesn't have work then it will be made for you.

Other things you get as a union employee are vacation time, sick days and pension.  Some or all of these may be offered by your company but only as long as you're employed there.  (Any 401k should be transferable)

Of interest if you were a 1099 contract employee that had real experience and job level where you were making over $100,000 it is costing you an additional $8,000 in taxes simply because the company chose to hire you as an independent contractor.  And as pointed out on vfx soldier, being an independent contractor means it's much more difficult to get a mortgage for a house.

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