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Unions 101: Part Two

Unions 101: Part Two

Jamie Bartkowicz | TEAD Co-Founder/Lead Instructor

How Do You Join a Union?

In Part One we talked about what unions are and the generality of them. This week we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into the 3 locals we mentioned before (44, 871, and 800) and what their process is to join them.

Each local has its own set of rules and regulations for joining. So it’s important to understand and know the requirements of the specific local union you are interested in.

Local 44 The first step of joining Local 44 is accumulating 30 days of union work. So you have to work on union shows before you’re in the union in order to join? Sounds a bit confusing, I know. But it all has to do with permit work or a show “flip.” Let’s break that down a bit:

Working as a “Permit”

When union productions need to fill a position last minute, they will make what is known as a “turned over call” which allows them to hire non-union individuals for their production.

Before that is allowed, an authorized hiring manager from the production needs to place a call to Local 44 for the position in need. Then, Local 44’s Call Board will reach out to those on their union roster (starting with the one who has been unemployed the longest) to see who is available. Productions will usually have a list of requested individuals that they give to the Call Board, which they will contact first. Only when the Call Board cannot find any union members to fill that position will they allow a non-union hire as a “permit.”

If and when you accumulate the needed amount of union days through permit work, you can then apply for the local.

Having a Show “Flip”

When a show “flips,” it means that the production has organized to become union after filming has begun.* This can also be referred to as a production “organizing.” *It is important to note that this is not usually the case for “above the line” Unions- they have their own protocols.

There are several reasons why a show may flip during production. A few examples being:

-A union worker takes a non-union job and that isn’t disclosed at hire

-Non-union crew members report the production to the union based on mishandlings/concerns

-A production’s length/budget is reviewed and determined the production should meet the IASTE collective bargaining agreement

When a production is about to flip, a union rep will come to the production, hold a blind vote, and then present a deal with the Producer based on the medium. If you work on a show that flips, you can log those days with CSATF (The Contract Services Administration Trust Fund) and get placed on the Industry Experience Roster (IER) What is the CSATF?

“The Contract Services Administration Trust fund is among the collective bargaining agreements between the IATSE and other entertainment unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The CSATF is among the organizations that carry out the provisions of these agreements. Their main role is maintaining and administering the Industry Experience Roster (IER). Their database collects individuals’ work experience and additional specifications for certain local affiliations that are needed to join the IATSE and its' affiliations. For more information regarding the

When applying for the IATSE Local 44 union, they will look at the union experience logged into their database. It is imperative when you are working on projects – particularly non-union projects that turn to union – to report your days to the CSTAF. Keep your paystubs and call-in to ensure those days are logged, as those days are required for your Local 44 union application.” “How to Join IATSE Local 44” [1]

For full information on how to join local 44, you can visit their site: [2]

Local 871 As previously mentioned in Part One, Local 871 covers a variety of crafts; but for the purpose of our focus on the Art Department, we’ll look at joining as an Art Department Coordinator. As far as requirements go, applying as an Art Department Coordinator for 871 is less intensive as others: You must acquire either 30 paid Union days OR 100 paid Non-Union days as an Art Department Coordinator. You must have verifiable pay stubs for these workdays.

Additionally, you will need to submit a current resume and photo ID. Full details: [3]

Local 800 (ADG)

While individual locals have their own requirements to join, some also have different requirements based on which craft you are applying for. Local 800 (Art Director’s Guild) is a perfect example of this.

Depending on your craft, the eligibility requirements may be different for each. Essentially, they split the crafts into these main groups:

· Art Directors, Production Designers

· Illustrators, Matte Artists

· Set Designers, Model Makers

· Scenic, Title, and Graphic Artists

Each of these have their own eligibility requirements, and even more specifics based on titles. You can review each of them on their website here: [4]

Next Time On “Unions 101”:

So how are we feeling? You still with me? If you’re feeling overwhelmed- that is OK! Like I’ve expressed many times before: understanding unions can be a lot. That’s precisely why we are putting together this little series in the first place.

From an “outsider” perspective, this may seem confusing. But it’s important to remember that as you progress in your craft/career, this knowledge will become more clearly as you meet and work with others. In fact, that’s a big part in all of this- talking with union members and getting their insight and experience knowledge first-hand! And that’s where we’ll be going with Part Three! We’ll chat a little with some current union members from different locals/crafts and get their inside perspective on this. Remember to subscribe and follow us on social media so you can stay updated!

Instagram: @TheEssentialArtDepartment Twitter: @Essential_AD _________________________________________________________________________


[1] | How to Join IATSE Local 44

[3] Local 871 Website

[4] Local 800 ADG Website

Photo Credits Film set photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash CSATF logo by

Designer photo by Nirmal Rajendharkumar on Unsplash

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