You are here


How does a union benefit workers, especially in the entertainment industry?

The IATSE, which is the largest union in North America for below-the-line entertainment employees, strives to improve the social and economic conditions of our members. People working under IATSE agreements enjoy portable healthcare and pension, enforced working conditions such as overtime, late meal penalties, proper classification of workers (specifically against the abuse of 1099’s), and a grievance system for dealing with workplace issues. We believe employees have a right to a work/life balance and, at times when that is impossible or undesirable, to be paid adequately for their time.

Collective representation gives you and your colleagues a unified voice in the workplace, which is then used to set and enforce changes that benefit you.

Is there only one contract that all companies must agree to?

No. The IATSE has a wide variety of contracts that take into account both budget and specific modes of production on a project. The IATSE has a long history of working with both major corporations and small independent companies. With input from the group at the studio, the IATSE would start with a template and adjust to address the needs, challenges, and realities of your workplace.

If we go union, who would negotiate our contract with the employer?

Representatives from the IATSE, lawyers and other applicable professionals, as well as a group of employees from the facility would be at the bargaining table.

What are the costs to an employer for a union employee?

There are many moving parts when building an agreement that works well for employees and employers. There are fixed costs, such as hourly rates and employer benefit contributions, the amounts of which are part of the bargaining process during contract negotiations. However, there are also the choices that employers make day to day that affect the cost of a union employee. Overtime and Dismissal Pay are workplace decisions that can be managed to keep costs low.

Since we have a wide array of contracts to cover the diversity of entertainment projects made in the US and Canada, there is no single dollar amount that answers this question.

However, the benefits of a union agreement to an employer are numerous: skilled workers eager to work at a union shop, affordable guidelines that help them remain within Federal and State/Provincial labor laws, and a level playing field with other employers.

Would we be forced to only “wear one hat” on a project?

The IATSE understands that there are a variety of skills employed by a VFX artist on any given project. We do not want to create unnecessary rigidity among job classifications, or prevent artists from utilizing their skills. Each contract would deal with these issues to avoid workplace abuse but allow artists the flexibility to be creative and productive. VFX artists have a long history of past practice to draw from; your expertise on these issues would be part of the bargaining committee’s role during negotiations.

How do I organize my workplace?

Check out the How To Organize page for your region.