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52 and 600 at the same time?


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#1 Daniel Wallens

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 11:08 AM

Hello all,
Here in New York, is it possible to be a member of 52 and 600 at the same time (or, at least overlapping)? I ask only because I have been gripping (with some small electric/gaffing work as well, but not really) for a bunch of years now, but ultimately, I'd like to DP. I was thinking about trying the impossible and joining 52 (I'm not related to anyone, sniff, sniff), but I'd hesitate if I knew that would keep me out of 600 in the future.

Thanks for any help :)
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 10:17 PM

Check with your local, but I don't think there's anything precluding dual membership (aside from ponying up the initiation costs for two unions). I'm looking at doing dual 728 and 600 myself.
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#3 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 12:09 AM

It's not an issue here. They both would love to get your money.
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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 03:32 AM

Is it that hard to get into the grip union out in NY? I ask because I recently met a union grip out here in SF Bay Area (Local 16, I think?) and he said it was very easy to get in. Apparently, they get very busy in Sept./Oct. and start looking frantically for people to hire at the last minute, so you can send in your resume then and get in quite easily. Of course, he mostly does stagehand work rather than film work, so maybe that's different?

I've also thought about doing this but ultimately I'd like to join Local 600 as an AC someday. I'd like to know how old most AC's are when they join the union. I imagine someone as young as Annie is an exception?
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 07:16 PM

Is it that hard to get into the grip union out in NY? I ask because I recently met a union grip out here in SF Bay Area (Local 16, I think?) and he said it was very easy to get in. Apparently, they get very busy in Sept./Oct. and start looking frantically for people to hire at the last minute, so you can send in your resume then and get in quite easily. Of course, he mostly does stagehand work rather than film work, so maybe that's different?

I've also thought about doing this but ultimately I'd like to join Local 600 as an AC someday. I'd like to know how old most AC's are when they join the union. I imagine someone as young as Annie is an exception?


I don't know. I intend to join as soon as I have enough paid days to go on the experience roster and I think I'll be able to get union jobs.
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#6 Daniel Wallens

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 11:12 PM

it is my understanding that Local 52 here in NY is very hard to get into as a grip/electric. You basically have to either get fathered in, or get nominated/vouched for by a bunch of union members. 600, on the other hand, is far easier to get in. From what I've heard, all you need to do is pay (but it is far more expensive than 52)
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#7 Jon Kukla

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 05:38 PM

You have to remember that in the west coast, the only way to get into the union roster is to work the number of days. On the east coast, you can take a test in NYC in October (it's probably too late to register at this point) and get in if you pass (and pay your initiation fees). However, it's not transferable to other regions unless you work at least 30 days paid in the east coast region. My point is that age is theoretically less correlative on the east coast, although it's general consensus that joining the union without prospective union jobs is probably not a good move financially.
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#8 Alec Jarnagin

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 12:00 AM

Daniel,

A bit late to the party.

Yes, you can be in Local 52 & 600 at the same time.

Good luck.
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#9 Andrew Wheeler

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 09:49 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong but, passing the Local 52 grip or electric test does not mean your in. And its generally pretty hard to get in without some help. I took the grip test and failed. Its quite difficult. Again, I could be wrong but im pretty sure passing the test just means it gets voted on as to whether or not your in. If you don't pass it doesnt even go to the vote. Basically, if you don't have people to speak up for you its probably going to be difficult.

Daniel,

A bit late to the party.

Yes, you can be in Local 52 & 600 at the same time.

Good luck.


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#10 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 10:27 PM

Don't count on getting into the NY union because you did well on the test. The roster is kept at a certain length because it garuntees work for those on it, keeps control of the workforce by th eunion, and makes sure that in slimmer times, they don't have too much dead weight. So it's always kept lighter than heavier. I can tell you of ten guys that worked for me over the years that took the test three and four times and couldn't get in. One guy, Kelly Brit sued the union to get in after passing tests, yet being denied, all this while working on union sets. He's part of the union now, because he sued them to do so, so that should tell you how hard it is in NY
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#11 Joseph Zizzo

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 12:31 AM

yes, walter, you are quite right. passing the test means only that your name will be put on the list of potential candidates to be voted in (or not) at a general membership meeting. if enough people in the union know you, you will probably get voted in. if not.... well, you get 3 chances to get voted in before you have to take the test over.

as a member of local 600, and a former member of 52, the only important piece of advice i have is this: don't let your membership in 52 lapse before you get into 600! if you are still a member of 52 when you are inducted into 600, the amount you paid to local 52 as an initiation fee will be deducted frrom the initiation fee for local 600. if you let your membership in 52 lapse before you get into 600, you will end having to pay the full amount to both locals.

alas, i learned this the hard way!

good luck.
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#12 Daniel Wallens

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 08:06 PM

Hey all new replyers!
Thanks for bringing this thread back to life. Lots of good, new information -- thank you :)

Andrew,
I also have heard the test is quite difficult. Of course, this is all I know -- I've never seen/been told of a sample test, or know what the specific questions are like. If I were to ask for some examples here, or ask to see an old test, etc., would I be breaking some sort of code? Ethical, lawful, or otherwise? When people say hard, are we talking "you have to know the max and min height to the inch for a Sidewinder dolly when using low mode" kinda questions? Do you have to know how to assemble a supertechno on your own? Do you need to know the maximum height of a Grove AMZ68 at 30 degrees? Or are we talking about questions like the differences between box, triangle, and tower truss? The term "difficult" can mean different things depending on what one is used to doing, I guess.

Also, in terms of aerial lift certification: according to the initiation rules (http://www.iatseloca...ion process.pdf), you must be aerial lift certified before finalizing the initiation into the union. Apparently, when you first file they will set you up with an aerial lift course and the chance at certification (or at least they'll give you info about it). BUT, suppose I do it on my own? Will it be acceptable if I get certified on my own (National Safety Services, I think, are the ones who provide official certification) and come in to apply to the union when I am already certified? Is there any benefit to doing it this way? Or the other? (maybe one is cheaper??)

Also, Andrew, did you get your filing fee back ($750, I think?)

Joe,
Thanks very much for the tip -- good to know! :)
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#13 Joseph Zizzo

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 10:34 PM

daniel,

if you have been gripping in new york for a few years now, as you said in your first post, then you probably know some people who have gotten in since you started working, no? those guys and girls are usually the best source for all of this information, because they've recently done it. and, they are the ones who will stand up for you at the meeting before the vote. if i were you i'd go through my palm (or whatever) database and make a few calls. i would bet you know someone who is in. if not, ask around on set. someone will know someone, guaranteed.

the other thing you can do, if you are keying, or if you can influence the key you are working for, is to hire a union grip who is willing to work non-union. then you have the whole job to become acquainted, and pick his/her brain.

you can also get answers to some of these questions (although i don't think they're going to tell you what's on the test!) at the hall, 326 west 48th street. but whatever they say, do it their way! that's the best way to get in. it's a really old-school organization, much moreso than 600, so follow their established guidelines. i know walter said one guy sued and was admitted, but i'll bet he didn't make many friends in the process! and we all know how important those are in this business...

and keep trying. its not impossible, imho anyone who really want to get in, gets in, eventually.

good luck!
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#14 Frank Barrera

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 07:18 PM

Daniel,

I haven't posted in a long time mostly because I haven't had anything to add to all the other many excellent posts. Alas, I do have a story to impart. I will make it brief.

I came up as a gaffer in the late 1990's in the NYC indie scene. I left town for a couple of years to go on an adventure with my wife in Arizona. I returned to NY to find that almost all the guys I new had gotten "walked in" to Local 52. This happened on a few 1.5 to 2 million dollar movies that turned union and a couple of cable tv shows where the same occurred. This was common in the late 1990's as the NY local was making a conscious effort to increase their membership. In 2004 I decided that although I was beginning my DP career it wouldn't hurt to receive the benefits that the union had to offer an electrician. I followed all the rules. I took the test. Passed. I took the safety course. I went up for the vote. And did not get in. I went up for the next vote. Didn't get in. Then I had two fairly high profile members stand up for me before my third vote. I still didn't get in.

Then a union DP wanted to hire me as gaffer on a union TV show for NBC. The NBC lawyers contacted Local 52 on my behalf stating that I had passed their test and was a known technician in the union world and I was the one that the production wished to hire. The Local said,"No." By the way, this is illegal and I could have pursued legal action. But I figured #1 I do not want to alienate these people who I will be dealing with for the rest of my professional life and #2 I don't really want to be a union juicer anyway. I want to shoot.

Then there was another union feature that wanted me... that didn't work out either.

So I gave up on 52. I plan on joining 600 in the next year or so.

From my understanding of the history of the NY Local it's membership drives have ebbed and flowed. Since around 2002 or so they have reached a number that they are satisfied with. They did triple their membership from 1990 to 2000 if that tells you anything. I do know a few guys who work on "permit" and have enough hours that although they don't have cards they actually do get benefits. This is probably a manifestation of federal regs.

Hey Joe Z. Remember that commercial I did with you in New Jersey in that crazy house with the sheep? Good times.

f
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#15 Joseph Zizzo

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 04:12 AM

frank!

yes, of course, who could forget a shoot with sheep indoors!? you did a great job, thanks. you may know, a few of those spots won emmys...

joe
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#16 John Thomas

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 09:19 PM

Then there was another union feature that wanted me... that didn't work out either.


Frank,

That's quite an adventure! To your credit, not many people could have related that story without sounding bitter. I guess some people are just made for the film biz.

Good luck to you, John
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#17 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 09:27 PM

it is my understanding that Local 52 here in NY is very hard to get into as a grip/electric. You basically have to either get fathered in, or get nominated/vouched for by a bunch of union members. 600, on the other hand, is far easier to get in. From what I've heard, all you need to do is pay (but it is far more expensive than 52)


Well, recent events have proven that all you need to do to get into Local 600 is be willing to work for peanuts shooting EPK/Behind the Scenes and the LA office will just give you a card no questions asked. Welcome! :)
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#18 Daniel Wallens

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 03:40 PM

Hi Joe and Frank,

Thanks for your informative responses ? your information is invaluable. Although, I must admit, I?m now a bit confused after hearing that one should ?...keep trying. its not impossible, imho anyone who really want to get in, gets in, eventually.? and then reading about Frank?s ultimately unsuccessful dealings with 52 after many, many, many tries (although he did say that he didn?t ?really want to be a union juicer anyway?). Regardless, I applaud your persistence, Frank, and admire your determination.

As for my personal experiences, to parallel yours, Frank, I too have worked on a couple of features ? recently ? that just happened to go union in the middle of shooting (same budget as you mentioned, 1-2+ mil). In terms of LOC52, virtually nothing happened. No one was walked in, no one got paid differently. Hours of the days didn?t change, no one new was brought on. The only thing that really changed was that meal penalties went up about buck, I think. It seems that getting walked into the union is a thing of the past (perhaps a thing of the distant future). I?d love to be able to hire a union grip on something I key ? it?s just that this is generally highly unlikely because (1) they would never take it, and (2) they generally aren?t allowed to take it. The reverse is also difficult: I rarely work with a union key because they are required (generally) to hire union grips.


It?s just become a little frustrating for me personally lately: I have now had to give up 3 or 4 jobs in the past few months (including keying one feature with a great, fairly well known DP I really like working with and admire) because they were union, even though the DP, producer, or UPM wanted me on the job. I have always been told ?there?s no point in joining the union until you start getting calls for union jobs.? Well, that?s happening, and I?m afraid I don?t know enough union keys/old timers, and also, I?m a bit afraid of the test, I must admit.


(and damn, Joe, your name really does sound familiar. I think I?ve worked on something with you, I have no idea what though!)
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#19 timHealy

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Posted 24 March 2008 - 07:44 PM

All unions are hard to get into and for different reasons. I'm in 52 and 728 and they had completely different requirements or hurdles to get over. But basically 52 is a lot easier to get into than say pre 1990 when it helped to be family. Many people have gained entry for a lot of reasons including mergers and being walked in. Some have gained entry because a DP went out on a limb. Some people get in because they work in a rental house for some time and meet union guys over time and even start working on permit when it is busy. So when it comes time to vote they know some people. The hardest way to get in is to gaff non union movies and simply try to get in as a gaffer not knowing anyone. 52 already has plenty of gaffers. If you really want to get in, you can. Some have to work at it more than others. It just simple dumb luck and a lot of perseverance.

But if you are shooting why would you want to get into 52? You have to work as a grip or electrician to make your days to qualify for health insurance. A lot of days. That is just time away from shooting. If you know shooting is where you want to be then don't bother wasting your time working as a grip or electrician.

Best

Tim
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#20 Daniel Wallens

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Posted 26 March 2008 - 06:47 PM

Well, I stopped into IA52 today (at your recommendation, Joe). People were pleasant enough, but, as I thought, information was not thrown at me. Really, I didn't expect it to. They just basically told me to go to their website, and that would have all the information.

So really, I am still apprehensive about the test and also the chances of the vote. I suppose there really isn't any way to find out more about these until I actually go through the application process -- unless someone has any other suggestions..?
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