Jump to content




Photo

Union vs. Non- Union; Or Fair vs. Unfair


  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 Gregory Irwin

Gregory Irwin
  • Sustaining Members
  • 527 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Work is based in Los Angeles but I live elsewhere.

Posted 21 November 2015 - 11:18 PM

This is a carryover from the Spectre thread.

Here is my point of view on this: We can be the best cinematographer, camera operator, grip or whatever. We still need to be a businessman as well. After all, we work in the film INDUSTRY! We work in Show BUSINESS!!! Without having an involvement in the business side of affairs, what do you expect? I earn my value because of several things. For one thing, I am educated and I paid for my college education. I have a degree in Cinema and I also have 3 degrees in Business. I have mastered my craft and I run a very balanced and disciplined business as well. I am the CEO of me and that's how I approach my career. And yes, Gregg McPherson, I do live in a gated, California community. I've earned that. I work myself to the bone at times so I can enjoy the other parts of life. Don't hate the union. Ask yourself if you have managed yourself properly. I believe this topic is not really about Union or non Union but rather about who takes advantage of their value at their craft and then who struggles. All of us have the same opportunities to do well. I knew no one in this industry and fought my way in.

G
  • 0




#2 Adrian Sierkowski

Adrian Sierkowski
  • Sustaining Members
  • 6767 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, Ca

Posted 22 November 2015 - 12:10 AM

One must never discount the necessity of serendipity. Granted I haven't followed up on the Spectre threat in a bit-- but I will say that one must just exercise good judgement when it comes to their own career and take responsibility for the choices they've made-- stand by them. Not everyone will succeed-- many will fail-- most perhaps-- but one must lay the blame thereupon where it really rests. We don't all get the same opportunities; but we are all given opportunity and it's onto use to maximize that which we are presented with. Lord knows I've screwed up plenty of time-- but that's on me.


  • 0

#3 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1034 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 22 November 2015 - 12:29 AM

Unions are not perfect.. the old one in the UK in the 80,s when I was starting out was very corrupt .. and well known to be.. 

But a Union in the real sense of the word.. in any industry is needed.. its not open to debate.. its empirical fact.. just look at how it was before they existed.. and thats the reason they came into being in the first place.. 

 

Its this right wing fox talk,and even from t**ts in our industry .. talking about lazy union workers.. that has been trotted out for years from reactionary morons .. everyone be in the union.. if your lazy or just actually no good at the job.. you wont be hired again.. its about fair work practices .. very least 10 hr turn over.. people really are actually dying in our industry due to crazy work hours .. 

 

No union and we are all screwed .. end of story.. 


  • 0

#4 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1514 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 22 November 2015 - 12:37 AM

Good on you Greg (one g at either end) for putting it in a new thread.  Though I myself don't have much more to say,  on proviso that I have been understood.  I'm going to restate (copy) some of mine from that thread......

 

"Is their any moral foundation at all for thinking that the unions should protect the middle classes at the expense of the poor?..."

 

"...Now it seems that an income of USD120 000 is barely middle class.  If this was true,  then the social problem we might worry about is much worse than we might imagine.  But of course it's not.  Unless one lives in,  who knows,  Dubai or perfhaps a gated community in California that has claimed sovereignty...."

 

A community may be gated in CA,  but unless it achieves sovereignty,  it's still part of CA statistics (from the census).  I found some census stats....

- Medium household income (2009-2013) $61,094.
- Median house value,  owner occupier (2009-2013), $366,400.
- Below poverty line (2009-2013), 15.9%
- Hispanic (2014) 38.6%

 

I may be a little out of date,  and I don't have any stats on income for imigrants that work for the middle classes,  or for the small businesses that service the middle classes.

 

Gregg (two gs or three)


  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 22 November 2015 - 01:11 AM

I just don't get the notion that higher wages for workers means you're taking money away from the poor rather than taking it away from the people who pay the workers.  So the solution to income inequality is to lower wages of the middle class so they can be poor too?  This is similar to the logic used against raising the minimum wage, that it always hurts the poor rather than helps them, and yet every time it has been raised in the past, this tends to not be the result.

 

Like many film industry workers, my yearly wages vary quite a bit.  Unless you actually live here in Los Angeles, it's hard to understand the income needed to live in different parts of town, to be able to buy a home and pay the mortgage, pay for your children's education, and to save for retirement (the truth is that many Americans don't save for retirement).  A college degree in the U.S. these days is very costly compared to many other countries.  

 

Anyway, I work on TV series and independent union features, and just glancing around at the lives of the grips, electrics, and camera assistants around me, no one is getting rich -- when they are busy, they can maintain those middle class lifestyle elements I've mentioned with their union rates, and have a healthcare plan plus some money put away in their pensions, but as soon as there is a dry spell, things can get desperate pretty fast for many of them.  I get emails all the time from people on the verge of losing their healthcare plan if they don't get some union hours.  I've seen crew people lose homes, go through divorces over money problems, etc.  These crews are not fat cats rolling in money and driving expensive cars around town, many are struggling.  So excuse me if I say that this fantasy of the lazy, rich union worker has little to do with daily reality I see around town.


  • 2

#6 Kenny N Suleimanagich

Kenny N Suleimanagich
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 843 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • New York

Posted 22 November 2015 - 01:44 AM

A friend of mine works in the art department on a TV show in Louisiana, and mentioned how both Louisiana and Georgia are "right to work" states a very interesting element in the film production realm, where entering a union is very directly correlated to "breaking in" to the industry and larger production. He's non-Union for now (not earning enough on big stuff to justify membership just yet) but makes wages on a union scale. I would love to hear some members thoughts and experiences with that.

Also, a lot of people stay non-union by choice. A lot of work happens outside of union productions but still in very, very high budget realms. What generally happens then is the principals get paid well but the smaller production roles are near-or-below-minimum wage. Many of my friends and colleagues have started in or still occupy thèse small roles on sets. It's a fact of life.

So many people in today's society associate unions with the negatives that have been mentioned in this and various other threads. What is often overlooked is invaluable technical and safety training that union members are required to have.
  • 0

#7 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1514 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 22 November 2015 - 02:56 AM

Actually,  I don't know if it really is a union at all.  It sounds more like a guild,  intending to protect the interests of skilled artisans.  The unions,  didn't they come about because people were being brutally exploited by an industrial revolution in 19th century Europe.  I don't mean,  like mortgage,  health care and college fund worries.  Read up on that.

 

Are the American film tech guilds protecting the interests of their skilled members?  Are they helping or ignoring the large industry segment that works for little or nothing?  FYI,  I called these people poor.

 

So,  America being precariously top heavy with lawyers,  I guess an opportunity is there for someone,  to earn from this inapproprate use of the word "union".


  • 0

#8 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1034 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 22 November 2015 - 03:21 AM

I think you have a point.. and its always used to attack unions.. as many have become corrupt and become an exclusive club,rather than a union.. and union leaders have been bought off by owners.. it used to be called Duchessing ..  i.e. the union leaders behaving as the bosses.. and come under the control of gangsters.. Teamsters of the 70,s etc..  in Japan they have a very clever system to get around it.. by each company having their own union .. chiefs appointed by management !!   rather than as an industry.. 

 

So anti unionists can very easily pick up these types of weakness .. You can see that in Haskel Wexlers move to impose the 10 hr turn around .. with the response or lack there of from his own union .. !!!  

 

But you dont have to be that bright to see what has happened and what will happen without a trade union.. yes re the industrial revolution ..  you joined a union.. not even strike.. you got hanged.. Tolpuddle Martyrs in the UK.. Striking Ford workers shot to death by police !!  1932..same Ford with the pic of Hilter in his office.. ok extreme cases .. but owners will pursue profit.. means everyone who works for them gets screwed.. 


  • 0

#9 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11223 posts
  • Other

Posted 22 November 2015 - 05:57 AM

I'll point out the same thing I've pointed out before.

 

Even in a place where there are not strong unions, such as here, the situation ultimately ends up being quite similar. There are a comparatively small number of big, expensive shows which employ a comparatively small number of people in total and pay them a lot of money. There are a comparatively large number of small, cheap shows which employ a lot of people on terms which approach the threshold of abuse. The fact that some people work often, and on big stuff, and make a nice living, and some people don't, is not affected that significantly by the existence of a strong union - so it's probably inaccurate to credit the union with helping that much. Other factors are at play.

 

From my perspective, very few people in the UK are ever going to make a nice living out of film and TV work because there is so little of it. That's neither the fault of the union nor its responsibility to correct, but it would be nice to see them campaign for things (such as a levy on foreign imports) which, it is widely accepted, are the only possible solution. It will never happen, but that's the fault of central government who I view as almost entirely corrupt.

 

So the solution to income inequality is to lower wages of the middle class so they can be poor too?

 

The solution to income inequality is to reduce the rich-poor gap, ideally by doing so in relation to the cost of living such that it is affordable for everyone. The gap between the middle class and the poor in many countries is not particularly objectionable, at least inasmuch as the poor can survive at some level. The problem is the way that pay rates tend to exponentially skyrocket above the middle-income level, to the point where the most senior people in an organisation will be paid literally thousands of times more than the least senior. No one human is worth thousands of times more than any other in terms of work output. It is blindingly obvious where the wage cuts need to happen, if anywhere.

 

Ultimately none of this matters if the comparatively-poor, which, sadly, will include most UK film crew, can still afford a reasonable standard of living. Sadly in London at least with house prices exploding past nine times average annual income (and that average includes the earnings of the rich!) this has not been true for over a decade.

 

P


  • 0

#10 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5191 posts
  • Director

Posted 22 November 2015 - 12:55 PM

I guess I could jump in here, but I'll just end up enraging most everyone. :)

 

R,


  • 1

#11 Gregory Irwin

Gregory Irwin
  • Sustaining Members
  • 527 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Work is based in Los Angeles but I live elsewhere.

Posted 22 November 2015 - 12:58 PM

I guess I could jump in here, but I'll just end up enraging most everyone. :)
 
R,


Ha Ha! I've been wondering where you've been! Your POV is always welcomed Richard.

G
  • 0

#12 Richard Boddington

Richard Boddington
  • Sustaining Members
  • 5191 posts
  • Director

Posted 22 November 2015 - 01:27 PM

Oh no....it's ok, nothing left to say now anyway.  You guys seem to have this one under control.

 

R,


  • 0

#13 Gregory Irwin

Gregory Irwin
  • Sustaining Members
  • 527 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • Work is based in Los Angeles but I live elsewhere.

Posted 22 November 2015 - 01:29 PM

To respond to Gregg's (3 Gs) comment on California census numbers, California is a very large and diverse state with all income brackets represented. My point is that in the more desirable areas of Southern California, USD$120k doesn't go very far due to the cost of living here. For example my area, according to 2015 data, the average household income is well beyond that. That's just reality here in So. Cal. Now add in the family and all of the expenses that go with that and the $$$ goes really fast!

That is why I wouldn't ever wish less on anyone who can expand their value whether it's due to a higher education and/or talent level. You earn it - you deserve it. That's how we grow professionally and how we can achieve a quality of life for whatever our chosen profession may be.

G
  • 0

#14 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1514 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 23 November 2015 - 12:14 AM

Hey Greg,
I don't mean to diminish your hard work,  effort or achievements.

 

I do think that the rich and the middle classes (in the accepted common sense of that phrase) will not be happy as long as there are people below them living in a compromised condition,  suffering. So unless everyone is happy,  or on the path to that,  no one really is.  No thoughts from me at this point about redistributing wealth as a means to change.

 

Re the sample population,  income levels,  the strata of income classes.
I need to look at a smaller population to see the relative income.  What's your "area" that you refer to?  Or,  if you want to keep privacy,  suggest an "area" with a very similar population.

 

There is a problem with use of the term "middle class".  I don't think it's reasonable to use this already very meaningful term to refer to a stratum within some small unique community.  We can't ignore the broader,  commonly accepted meaning.

 

The mean (average) income can be misleading on its own.  The median to me is more illustrative.  A graph showing the actual distribution of incomes is better.

 

Ending with an amusing anecdote...
Awhile back(1995?),  I met an odd Russian guy,  just emigrated to NZ.  He was well educated in neuclear physics,  "specialization in detonations and explosions".  He was busy selling hotdogs on the street,  otherwise unemployable. 

 

When I think about what we can expect from our hard work or education,  is there really a logical connection?  Generally, perhaps it's hit and miss.  Unless we belong to a privileged class within certain countries.  So is it fair,  or is it just an exercise of privilege?

 

Gregg.


  • 0

#15 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1034 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 23 November 2015 - 01:00 AM

I think this is pissing in the wind really.. the middle class are not rich..  the real imbalance of wealth is not if you have a pool and 2 cars..and in debt to your eyeballs.. the rich are people that have hundreds or thousands of millions ..  this is the imbalance not between $50,000 and $150,000.. these people are still slaves to the banks.. the others own the banks.. 


  • 0

#16 Miguel Angel

Miguel Angel
  • Sustaining Members
  • 562 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Spain / Ireland / South Africa

Posted 23 November 2015 - 05:47 AM

Seriously, based on the salaries that you are all posting, I think I will have to move either to Canada or to USA!

Upper - Middle class in most of the Euro countries is a monthly salary of 3000.

http://www.reinisfis...pean-union-2015

For example, the Spanish average salary is 900 / monthly (or even less) for a person who has a degree and has spent a couple of years doing his / her job.
Then, the promotion will be around 1200 and when you are in your 40's, you can get around those 2500 / 3000.

Renting an apartment on your own in the outskirts of Madrid can be around 500 / 600 monthly.

Ireland is a different scenario though.
The average salary is around 1500, the cost of living is higher than in Spain tho.

So, if in USA or Canada I can make movies and series one after the other and get well paid, give me a passport now!

Have a good day!
  • 0

#17 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11223 posts
  • Other

Posted 23 November 2015 - 06:08 AM

the middle class are not rich

 

Depends on definition, really.

 

In the UK, if you can afford a place to live that's less than two hours travel from where you work, with no mould and a place to store your gear that isn't the room you sleep in, a pension, a vehicle capable of transporting said gear and, good grief, a couple of weeks somewhere nice once a year, your income needs to be very much above average.

 

Personally I think all advanced countries should be trying to provide at least that for their citizens. That should be normal. Those things aren't too much to ask.

 

The reality is that you can work any number of hours you like, certainly in film and TV, in the UK and get nothing like that. If we're going to rely on the carrot of improved living standards to encourage people to work hard - which is fine - then it actually has to be realistically possible to achieve those improved living standards. At the moment it isn't, or at least it's largely luck-based, and that's a disaster.

 

It's not about it being fair, it's about the mechanisms that are supposed to supply us with a reason to work hard actually operating properly. If they're not operating properly, sure, people will sit about on benefits and not bother very much. Who can blame them.

 

P


  • 0

#18 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1034 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 23 November 2015 - 06:30 AM

Of course its all relative .. a guy busking in the streets of London might be considered rich by a farm worker in Bangladesh .. 

 

Im talking about the big picture.. its divisive,Fox media type move to be thinking of the middle class as rich..  the real rich are those with more money than they could ever even spend in a life time..   the people making $50,000 in a morning.. making nothing,inventing nothing.. e.g. bankers getting free money printed by politicians .. stealing ordinary peoples savings..

 

Sorry dont want to go into some boring political rant..  but rich is not "middle class" .. its like a bucket to a swimming pool.. to the real ruling class.. 

 

Over and out


  • 0

#19 Freya Black

Freya Black
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4032 posts
  • Other
  • Right on the edge in London

Posted 23 November 2015 - 07:07 AM

Apparently 80 individuals together account for more of the worlds money than that held by the poorest 50% of the planets population.


  • 0

#20 Michael LaVoie

Michael LaVoie
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 603 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 23 November 2015 - 06:08 PM

The 2015 TED conference was heavy with themes of economic justice.  Check out this brilliant talk from one Capitalist mogul who points out the hysterical imbalance in the wealth gap in the U.S.  At 3:15 the chart is unbelievable.

 


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 23 November 2015 - 06:08 PM.

  • 1


Pro 8mm

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

CineTape

The Slider

Zylight

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Glidecam

Visual Products

Willys Widgets

CineLab

Pro 8mm

Aerial Filmworks

Zylight

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Glidecam

Technodolly

Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Abel Cine

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC