Script Coordinators and Writers’ Assistants

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the benefits of Union Representation?
UNION BARGAINING POWER, UNION HEALTHCARE, and RETIREMENT BENEFITS.

UNION BARGAINING POWER

By gaining union representation you would gain the ability to have issues related to wages, hours and working conditions negotiated by your union rather than unilaterally imposed by the Production Companies. A bargaining committee would be established to work with your Business Representatives to negotiate the terms of a contract covering your crafts. Issues such as uncompensated on-call status all weekend could be addressed in these negotiations. Once a contract is negotiated, the Business Representatives would work with you to ensure that the terms of the agreement are enforced.

MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY HEALTH PLAN

While the terms of a contract are negotiable, as an IATSE represented employee in Los Angeles you would most likely be covered by the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plans, since gaining MPI coverage would clearly be the union’s priority in the negotiations. If the employer agrees to provide MPI benefits as part of the Agreement, you would become eligible for Health Benefits after working 600 hours under an IATSE contract. Once eligible for benefits, you need to work 400 hours every six months to retain benefits.

There is no monthly premium for individual health benefits. There is a $25 monthly premium for one dependent and a $50 premium for a full family.You can choose between a PPO plan administered by Anthem Blue Cross, a Health Net HMO or Kaiser.In addition, you are covered by Dental, Prescription and Vision plans.

MOTION PICTURE INDUSTRY PENSION PLAN AND INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNT PLAN

Eligible employees, for whom employers contribute to MPI, are also covered by two retirement plans; one, a traditional pension in which contributions are made by your employer based on hours worked, and the other, an Individual Account Plan to which your employer is contributing 6% of your wages. For more information about these plans, go to www.MPIPHP.org

In addition to the contractual benefits of being represented by the IATSE, union members also benefit from services offered by the union such as the Availability List (that employers use when hiring), training programs offered by the union, Life Insurance and AD&D policies, and many discounts on products such as Lynda.com, Final Draft, or IMDbPRO.

2. If I’m Represented by IATSE Local 871 would this impede my ability to join the WGA?

NO. If we gain recognition as your bargaining representative, we would represent you only when you are working in the classifications of Script Coordinator and Writers’ Assistant.  If you receive a staff writer position, or receive the opportunity to write a freelance script, those positions would be covered by the WGA. You could either remain as a dual member of both unions, or you could go on honorable withdrawal from Local 871 while working under the WGA’s jurisdiction and then return if you started working again in our covered classifications. We understand that your goal might be becoming a writer and a WGA member. However, there is no reason that you should work without a guarantee of health insurance or without earning towards your retirement while working towards this goal. Many union members in the entertainment industry are members of more than one union.

3. If I join Local 871, won’t they just hire someone who’s not a member to avoid having to follow the union contract?

NO. If we represent these classifications, everyone hired in these positions would be covered by the union contract. If a production hires someone who is not a member of the union, they will be required to join the union after 30-days. However, everyone is covered by the union contract from day one of employment, regardless of whether they have become a member.

4. These jobs don’t pay a lot. Won’t the dues be exorbitant?

NO. Because you are a new group of workers gaining union representation, Local 871 will waive the Initiation Fee for Script Coordinator or Writers’ Assistants who join the union within a few months of implementation of our first contract. While dues haven’t been established yet for these positions, Local 871 has relatively low dues. Dues for our highest paid classification, Script Supervisors, is $185 per quarter, and for the lowest, our Assistant Production Coordinators, is $97.51 per quarter. This is pretty minimal, especially when you think about the health benefits you will be receiving as an IATSE member.

5. If we are unionized, won’t that take away the opportunity for others to work in these positions?

NO. A standard provision in union contracts requires that anyone hired to work on a union production join the union after 30 days on the job. We would negotiate to have this provision in the Agreement. The union contract would have no effect whatsoever on the production’s ability to hire who they want. 

6. I am afraid of employer retaliation if I sign a card, should I be?

NO. The Authorization Cards we are asking you to sign are confidential and are protected by Federal Labor Law.  The cards are used in the event that we need to file for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (the Federal agency that regulates union/employer relations).  In that case, the cards would be given to the Board to compare to a list provided by the employers of their employees in these classifications.  The National Labor Relations Act provides that workers in the United States have the right to join unions.  It is illegal for your employers to retaliate against you for union activity.

7. What can I do to help?

We are asking everyone working as a Script Coordinator or Writers’ Assistant to sign an Authorization Card, which states that you designate the IATSE as your bargaining representative. To sign a card, click here:  https://organizing.iatse-intl.org/AuthForm.aspx?CID=71a3e516f846b894. You can also send the link to anyone else you know who works in these positions. The sooner we collect cards from everyone in these positions, the sooner we will get to the next step to gain recognition and begin negotiating a contract.

If you want to do more, or if you have questions, contact Leslie Simon, 818-509-7871, ext. 105 or leslie@ialocal871.org.