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Union worker on a non-union show on a union show's set...?


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#1 Chris Keth

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 07:40 PM

Since it's too late to call the local 600 office (which I will tomorrow, of course), I thought I'd see if anyone has run into this strange situation before.

Here are the circumstances: I am a union AC working on a non-union TV show. Our show is following some of our talent to the set of a show I presume is union (Oprah).

Are there any rules I should be aware of as a union member working on a union stage but NOT under a union contract?
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#2 Michele Peterson

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 12:08 AM

The stage isn't the one who is signatory, it's the production company, so if you continue to work for the non-union company, I doubt there will be an issue. I also doubt anyone will be so concerned as to question you about it. Sounds like a good networking opportunity to me.

Edited by Michele Peterson, 14 October 2009 - 12:09 AM.

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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 09:44 AM

The stage isn't the one who is signatory, it's the production company, so if you continue to work for the non-union company, I doubt there will be an issue. I also doubt anyone will be so concerned as to question you about it. Sounds like a good networking opportunity to me.


The reason I wonder is that if Oprah is union (I'm waiting to get a Chicago 600 rep on the phone), I think the stage is probably company owned rather than a rented space, making it a union workplace.

This is all brought into my mind from a couple of days last year where our director and DP didn't work on a non-union show because we were visiting the set of Entourage. I figure if it was important enough for both of them to avoid working those days that perhaps it's something I should find out about.
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#4 Michele Peterson

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 04:09 PM

Most large companies separate their assets into separate legal entities. That way is someone gets hurt on the stage and sues the stage for an injury that happened on it, they cannot collect on revenues from the show. They two are usually insulated from each other, which will work to your advantage in this situation. Either way, your instincts to call the local is your best bet.

Edited by Michele Peterson, 14 October 2009 - 04:10 PM.

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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 04:15 PM

Most large companies separate their assets into separate legal entities. That way is someone gets hurt on the stage and sues the stage for an injury that happened on it, they cannot collect on revenues from the show. They two are usually insulated from each other, which will work to your advantage in this situation. Either way, your instincts to call the local is your best bet.


Turns out it's a moot point anyway. Oprah isn't a union show. The explanation I got from the Chicago 600 rep is that she pays her cameramen more than going union rate and has good benefits so none wanted to flip the show when they were approached about it.
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#6 Marque DeWinter

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 10:53 PM

Turns out it's a moot point anyway. Oprah isn't a union show. The explanation I got from the Chicago 600 rep is that she pays her cameramen more than going union rate and has good benefits so none wanted to flip the show when they were approached about it.


I used to work on Oprah long ago... Not only do they pay better with better benefits (and the annual gifts are a huge perk) but my personal guess would be if the show did flip it would go NABET and not IATSE. They also tend to subcontract out a lot of the work to ENG production companies with a Harpo field producer supervising.

~Marque DeWinter
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#7 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 12:34 AM

I haven't ever shot on or for the Oprah Show, but I have shot publicity behind-the-scenes on the sister show, Dr. Phil. The show itself union and Paramount (where the show is shot) insists that any Cameraman who shoots on the lot is IA, which I am.

However, as is par for the course, the marketing vendor is NOT generally a signatory nor do they pay under a union contract, primarily because there isn't one for marketing in the Eastern Region. There IS a specific contract that ONLY covers EPK for Eastern and Central Regions, but it specifically excludes the Western Region.

Inquiries to why this is so have resulted in less than adequate answers.


Bottom line, unless you're dying for the hours, just take the job at a high rate and don't expect anyone in the union leadership to truly care. All they ever ask is "Are you union?" without ever bothering to verify whether hours are properly reported.
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