The other reality is that most union DPs, especially in the full contract, feature world would be able to pay off that $14,000 initiation fee in less than one week of gross pay. Plus, its 100% tax deductible!
I have a good friend who just paid that to join IATSE 600. My gosh it really sounds like a racket, paying $14, 000.00 essentially so you can work.
Best financial investment I ever made in my life. Otherwise I'd still be doing non-union features that were offering me $1000/week and I'd have no healthcare nor pension for retirement, and not enough salary to save up for any of that. My income doubled the first year I joined and tripled the second year. Before that, I was earning less than $20,000 a year as a DP of feature films, and that was after 23 features and two Independent Spirit Award nominations.
You can work and not join, you'd just be doing non-union work. In the commercial world that can still be lucrative. But most TV shows and features with any significant budget are union productions. The only non-union cinematographers that do OK financially here in the U.S. either do a lot of commercials or they are on some long-form reality TV productions.
Due to the high cost of healthcare in the U.S., the truth is that a large part of dues and joining fees are going to pay for the healthcare of the retired members.
You have to realise that these rates are sheer fantasy for almost all of the people on the planet who make a living in film. It's terribly easy to assume that something that's available to oneself is available to everyone, but thousands a week? Not on any planet near me.
Greg, without going into personal specifics, a DP who shoots a Netflix show earns maybe $6-8K/week. I know this firsthand as a friend of mine shot House of Cards and they paid exactly $6K/week. I can do same money on a union commercial in fewer days. But I don't work as much as they do - maybe nothing in a month, maybe 2 days - if it's a great month maybe 10 days of shooting. So for an average month, let's say 8 days of shooting, I contribute roughly the same amount of money to their fund as a Netflix show DP does, but get nothing in return. I don't think that's fair. It should be tiered system, so that those who contribute most get the free health care, but those who fall below a certain amount might have to chip in a little to get the benefits. Now you can be 1 hr short of your 400hrs and the whole things goes away. It's either on or off. That's no way to raise a family, never really knowing if you got insurance (unless you check in daily to see how many hours you have in a qualifying period).
I agree about having some sort of tiered qualification system for healthcare rather than this dramatic cut-off line. I had a bad year about two years ago and got that letter from Contract Services that I'd lose my healthcare in two months but luckily I got a job right after that. But most of these problems stem from the basic issue that healthcare in the U.S. is ridiculously expensive, which is hardly the union's fault.
this cut-off was something the producers insisted on, not the union.
I know, but the higher that threshold gets, the fewer people will qualify, and that's less incentive to join the union. Which is, of course, exactly what the producers want. The union needs to find some backbone and start fighting for its members while it still has some.
Its every six months. Any additional hours that are worked over and beyond the minimum requirement of 400 hours would be placed in a bank for the employee up to an additional 450 hours. If you come up short of hours to qualify, you can draw the necessary number of hours from your bank to keep your insurance.
Work is based in Los Angeles but I live elsewhere.
Posted 08 December 2017 - 10:57 AM
The other issue that the younger members of our guild will face will be the ability to reach the minimum for full retirement and pension. The minimum requirements are 30 years of service, 60 years of age and 60,000 union hours behind the camera. The longer you work past those minimums, the more you will make per month.
It should also be noted with all of the frustrations with qualifying for Motion Picture Health, assuming that you qualify for retirement, you stay on the health plan for life as well as your spouse.
So if you don't work enough hours, you lose your healthcare? Wow, great...um....system ya'll got there.
No offense Gregory Irwin, not sure how you can defend this system and call it superior to how Canada and the UK do things. Anyone of you can have a bad run and not be able to find work.
This silliness right here proves what a ridiculous system it is:
"The other issue that the younger members of our guild will face will be the ability to reach the minimum for full retirement and pension. The minimum requirements are 30 years of service, 60 years of age and 60,000 union hours behind the camera. The longer you work past those minimums, the more you will make per month."