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Local 600 honorable withdrawal


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#1 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 05:00 PM

So as of last month, I've now been honorably withdrawn from 600 for two years. I occasionally lie awake in a cold sweat thinking about the money that I still owe them (which includes part of my initiation fee). I vaguely recall signing something stating that I was responsible for dues up to two years' worth...in other words, I will owe them whatever dues I would've paid if I were still an active member, for up to two years. My stupid question of the day is, what happens after that point? Not that I'm complaining, but nobody from the union has called me, and I haven't gotten any kind of warning or anything. I realize eventually I'll have to cough up and am obviously hoping they put me on another payment plan, since coming up with thousands of dollars all at once is f*cking impossible for me. I also realize that if I were to call the union office, they might be able to answer my question...but if I were to do that, I'd also be reminding them of my existence. If anyone here has experience with this sort of thing, please reply...a PM is fine, or an email, since I don't check this forum that much anymore (address is in my profile). The other question I had was about retirement from the union as an AC...what then? Can you retire whenever you want or do you have to be a member for a certain amount of time? Thanks to whoever can help...just trying to take care of unfinished business.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 05:49 PM

I doubt you owe them dues for periods when you weren't working if you are quitting the union anyway, but in terms of pension, I think you have to work for five years in order to become vested in the pension plan. But I don't know if that means five years of paying dues or not.

Dues are only maybe $1000 a year, it's the initiation fee that gets you.
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#3 Tom Jensen

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 07:43 PM

I withdrew from the union as an operator a few years back and I think what it says it that if you go back to work as a union operator or as an assitant, you may be responsible for up to two years of back dues. I think.
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 09:05 PM

You only have to worry about it if you want to go back into union work. If you fuggedabout them, they fuggedabout you. At least that's the way it went with me. I was in for about ten years as a DP.





-- J.S.
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#5 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 01:15 AM

David,
You're right about the dues; granted, $1000 all at once is still a lot of money for me these days (not to mention, that's a new synth right there...arrrgh! haha). But I don't see how there would be any way out of not paying the rest of the initiation fee.

As much as I kind of want them to f*ck off, the fact remains that my experience was my own and that the union has been much better for others...so I feel like it would be really dishonest to just never pay them. It's not in my nature to be a bridge-burner. I mean, I just don't feel right about that. So, I don't know what to do. Tonight I will see if I can dig up the booklet they gave me when I joined and try to read all the fine print b.s. to see if I can figure it out.

Part of me also wants to write them a letter that just says, in short, that I appreciate the structure they have, they prepared all of us reasonably well for the test, but I think they could definitely stand to do more for new members...because I went running out of CSC like my ass was on fire thinking I was going to get union work once I joined, since my name would be on that new kid roster or whatever it is....and then I essentially starved all winter and slaved away on low-budget crap in order to keep paying my dues. I'm not even kidding, like I actually pretty much starved and got really sick because I was a stupid poor kid who just wanted to f*cking work. It was the worst winter of my life, and this was before the economy took a big poop.

There was even a stretch of time during the first couple of months in the union where I turned down NON-union stuff thinking that I absolutely wasn't allowed to work on it unless I called them....and being afraid to call it in, but not wanting to get caught. I didn't even get a union job until late August of 2007 and I joined in late October of 2006. The job was a 2-day commercial so it was barely worth it. The other union job I got was Top Model for maybe 7-10 days of work.

And that's it. I f*cking paid an amount of money that I could have lived off of for 6 months, to work on less than 2 weeks' worth of union jobs. With that money, I could have bought all the gear I lust after every day now. I could have recorded an album. I could have gone on a really cool vacation. I could have paid off all my student loans. The list goes on and on...it sucks.

I just didn't know how to talk to the right people or maybe they just had other people they wanted to hire instead, or were working with already. I had the skills and the drive to succeed, but I can truly see now, standing away from the industry and looking at the past 4 years of my life, that I was never given enough opportunity or support to make the most of my abilities. I got in tight with a few old skool people who don't work much anymore but were really helpful and just good to learn from, but it didn't help me connect to the people who are out there now who are working a lot, especially since a few of these guys were more into features and I had come out of a rental house that does more commercials.

I mean, I ask for no pity, but seriously, what a goddamn rip-off. It's in the past and now I'm doing things I enjoy more and starting to make the money I deserve, surrounded by people who I know respect and appreciate me, who are connected to people who could give me additional opportunities to get me where I want to be. And this is a beautiful, priceless thing....but when I think about that money I spent on the stupid union, man, I wish I could have it back....it kills me.
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#6 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 11:44 AM

I withdrew from the union as an operator a few years back and I think what it says it that if you go back to work as a union operator or as an assitant, you may be responsible for up to two years of back dues. I think.


That is my understanding as well.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:31 PM

I mean, I ask for no pity, but seriously, what a goddamn rip-off. It's in the past and now I'm doing things I enjoy more and starting to make the money I deserve, surrounded by people who I know respect and appreciate me, who are connected to people who could give me additional opportunities to get me where I want to be. And this is a beautiful, priceless thing....but when I think about that money I spent on the stupid union, man, I wish I could have it back....it kills me.


Well, it's like any other type of expensive investment, sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't. If you had bought a $100,000 camera and it paid off, you'd think it was a good investment, but if it didn't, would you think you were ripped-off or just unlucky?

I shot non-union features as a DP from 1992 to 2002, ten years and 23 features, and the best I ever earned was maybe $8000 on a feature, and maybe $20,000 a year.

I joined the IA in 2003 (when I was 41 years old) and paid the $10,000 initiation fee, and that year I made $40,000 shooting features, and the next year I made $60,000. So for me, it was a good investment that paid for itself within the first year. Plus now I have health insurance and a pension plan. But I talk to DP's all the time who can't get enough union work to continue their qualifications for the health plan, who basically are working non-union most of the time.

And obviously it wasn't worth me joining the union for a long time, so it's also a question of timing.

But it's different for a DP than an AC -- I find that AC's join a lot earlier, partly because non-union AC work is so miserable and they want to get out of it as quickly as possible, plus they can day play as union AC's. But as a DP, I was there for the whole show, so either it was a union job or it wasn't, I wasn't going to be able to dabble in union jobs here and there, not enough to justify joining earlier. So I waited until I was getting considered for over-3-mil features that were likely to be union jobs. When I was mostly up for under 2-mil features, it just seemed unlikely that I'd have to be in the union.

But there is always risk when money is involved -- not just in the expensive fee for joining the union, but the expense of going to film school, for example. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't.

It won't hurt to just talk to the Local 600 union rep about your financial situation. You won't be the first.

Now in my case, maybe I was too cautious financially and could have crawled up faster and earned more earlier had I taken a bigger risk and joined the union earlier, I don't know. I played it safe.
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#8 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 08:27 PM

David,
That's a good point about how it's so different for AC's than DP's. Which honestly, I hadn't really thought of. As for the union being a rip-off or just bad luck, when I think about the fact that I probably could've paid off my entire initiation fee just by working on one union feature as a loader, I suppose I have to conclude that it was just bad luck.

...But it still sucks! :lol:

Anyway. Like I said, I'm not trying to start a pity party. I just think that there's so much sugar-coated bullsh*t out there about the film industry. I forgot to mention that the biggest problem I have with the union is the way their health plan is structured. I mean, THAT'S a rip-off. It's just seriously not fair at all, no matter how you cut it. It's one thing to gamble your money for a chance at being successful at your job or not. It's another to gamble your money for your HEALTH. When I finally found a union member who could actually explain the way the health plan works to me, if I understand it correctly, I realize right away how catastrophically f*cked one would be if they got hurt badly enough that they couldn't work...and then fell off the health plan because they weren't getting enough hours to qualify...so then they couldn't take care of their injury...so then they still couldn't work...and so on. I mean, seriously...good job, Local 600. Good job.

Anyway. Off the soapbox I jump.
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#9 Richard Boddington

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 11:30 PM

and then fell off the health plan because they weren't getting enough hours to qualify


Good grief America install universal health care already, this has really gone on long enough.

R,
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#10 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 01:36 AM

Good grief America install universal health care already, this has really gone on long enough.


I seriously think it won't happen, certainly not this time around. National debt, government deficits, huge military spending, a tax cut-loving electorate, wishful thinking from the some on the left, disinformation campaigns from most on the right and political pandering from both sides makes it a huge liability for Obama and the Dems, as the news of the day illustrate.

http://news.yahoo.co...h_care_overhaul

After all, hey, it is America, where we all have the freedom to be unlucky enough to die like dogs curbside if we can't afford ever increasing insurance premiums! Let (traditionally heavily gov't subsidized) Capitalism REIGN!
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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 03:49 AM

Anyway. Like I said, I'm not trying to start a pity party.

Too late! :ph34r: (j/k)

I forgot to mention that the biggest problem I have with the union is the way their health plan is structured... if I understand it correctly, I realize right away how catastrophically f*cked one would be if they got hurt badly enough that they couldn't work...and then fell off the health plan because they weren't getting enough hours to qualify...so then they couldn't take care of their injury...so then they still couldn't work...and so on. I mean, seriously...good job, Local 600. Good job.

Yes, well. That's Amerka all over. It ain't gonna change anytime soon. Journalist T.R. Reid gave a great speech explaining how our health care system is structured and how it compares to other systems around the world: http://fora.tv/2009/...ling_of_America.
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#12 Justin Simpson

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 07:15 PM

Awesome post to read when thinking about joining the union. :unsure:
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#13 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 09:43 PM

Yeah, don't do it unless you've already been working on a ton of union jobs as a camera PA and are absolutely sure you'll have the money to continue paying them.
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