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Operator position in trouble


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#1 denis moran

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:31 PM

This may not effect many of the overseas operators but I wanted to keep local 600 operators in the loop.

It seems that the new contract does not have mandatory staffing of operators anymore. I haven't seen the contract but from what I was told... the hiring of an operator is at the whim of the DP and the producer.

I'll keep you posted.

Denis Moran
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#2 RobVanGelder

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:28 AM

... the hiring of an operator is at the whim of the DP and the producer.
Denis Moran



Which is the situation in..... almost EVERYWHERE in the world!

This is going to happen, like it or not. So you better prepare = be real good friends with them!
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#3 JamieSilverstein

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 04:02 AM

... the hiring of an operator is at the whim of the DP and the producer.
Denis Moran



Which is the situation in..... almost EVERYWHERE in the world!

This is going to happen, like it or not. So you better prepare = be real good friends with them!


Rob;
I'm not sure that that is the best attitude for the situation. In the US staffing of the operator has been a mandatory position and it has been one of the best things going for film workers here, and has aided filmworkers around the world. I would hope that one and all would rally around the cause, support the strengths of the contracts here, knowing that unless we can maintain some standards, we will be working more hours for less with absolutly no benefits whatsoever.
For those of you who do not belong to a union, it is my hope that one day you do belong and can gain some of those benefits as well.
Downgrading of conditions in one place is only a cause to downgrade in the rest of the world, so we all have to try to keep conditions and staffing rules and benefits as high as possible. We are on a backwards slide, and have been so for several years, partly due to globalization, partly due to the work forces vying for the same piece of the pie.
To be real good friends with producers and DPs is meaningless if they don't want to staff a $100,000,000 picture with an operator.
Pretty sad if this goes through.
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#4 Jamie Hammond

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 05:13 AM

Hi,
I can only speak for myself when I say, Jamie your absolutley right, we should rally around. Unfortunatly it sounds alittle like " welcome to the British film & TV industry, have a nice day" I have been climbing the ladder for a few years now from AC to OP and onwards. That ladder is becoming more a more slippery as each day passes. Grasp onto the benefits and union strengths you have with both hands because if its anything like here, you wont have much in a few years but a brown nose a lighter wallet and some two bit producer trying to screw you left, right and centre.

Good Luck & Happy New Year

J

P.S. although I do sound a little grieved, I am actually feeling very jovial LOL :D
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#5 denis moran

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 10:07 PM

Just to let people know what was up with the 600 operator situation...

There will be a meeting at the union hall in LA at 7:30pm on Wed. Jan. 11th to discuss what went wrong with the contract.

Please remember that this is not a "done deal". It is what the Producers have put forward and IA has agreed to.

It is up to the membership to vote on it.

Thanks.

Denis Moran
(ex-steadicam op)
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#6 Brant S. Fagan SOC

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 09:05 AM

Gents--

This situation is typical of IA "leadership" and I use that term lightly as it seems that those charged with representing us have gotten a touch of that "hostage mentality" where they begin to sympathize with the captor.

Time for new leadership that actually represents the membership rather than kowtows to the studios.

Are we so afraid of those in power that we have forgotten why their job positions exist?

Have we forgotten the brothers and sisters that fought for these terms which have slowly and continually been eroded by lame and spineless leaders?


Let's make this a key issue for all IA members! Talk this up on set with all our IA brothers and sisters!

Remember the Alamo! Why? Because those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Best,

Brant S. Fagan, SOC
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#7 Christopher T. Paul- SOC

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 09:38 AM

A sad day, indeed.

After reading about this here first, I called our local here in NY and confirmed it. It is as good as a done deal, and if you want to point fingers- you can start with all of our favorite heavy-hitting DP's who refuse to let an operator do his/her job and insist on operating their own camera. There are plenty of these folks out there, and why would a producer want to- year after year- continue to pay an operator in this situation who is going to sit on the truck? You can see how it got started.

Another huge concern is local 600's alienation from the IA, who really hung us out to dry here, and they are fully aware of it. Don't be blind to the politics that effect your wallet.

The one thing that us Steadimooks have is the ability to wrangle this beast of a rig- and that alone should allow us a bit of security. It is not a good day to be an operator who does not know the Steadicam.

A glum chum(p).


Chris
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#8 Afton Grant

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 01:04 PM

Is there anything non members can do to help the cause?

Best,
Afton Grant
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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 03:20 PM

When is the actual vote suppossed to take place? How much of the vote has to be against the contract for it not to go through? I'm still a pretty new member of the 600 and haven't voted for anything yet. I'm just wondering how things normally work.
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#10 RobVanGelder

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 12:21 PM

While I sympatize with you all in LA and in the union, my comments, whether nice or not, are about a realistic situation almost everywhere else in the world. My country, the Netherlands, has had probably one of the most generous laws and attitute towards the protection of workforce, un-employment, social benifits, medical insurance and what happens now, and in almost all other european countries is that all these rights and achievements are gradually taken away.
Of course that is not a good thing, that's why strikes are breaking out reguarly, Paris in tons of garbage, Germany with steel and car-manufacturers closed, etc.

The same things are happening in the private or business sector, not that there was any union for film workers in Holland, but the unions that are there have less and less power.

Then for sure the rules of supply and demand are getting more important, and with the enormous amount of operators in the LA area it is only a question of time that producers will push through and propose these kind of changes in the rules.

Please keep fighting, but keep in mind that the once so strong Union in the UK is now nearly non existing for the very same reasons.
Therefore it might be good to think about a plan if it doens't go the way you all want it to be.....

You have my support, really!


Rob
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#11 denis moran

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 01:31 PM

Here is a bit of what we were told by 600 at last night?s meeting. Yes, the operator position was seriously hurt during the negotiations for this contract which goes into effect in October, 2006.

A producer can ask the DP to operate a-camera on features and b-camera on TV. This agreement must take place during pre-production and must be agreed to by the union.

There will be an NEB meeting on Jan 21st in LA and Tom Short has agreed to come and address the members of the board. As far as I know? if you RSVP, you can attend.

I can say that I?m still not sure why the operators were screwed in this contract and perhaps we will find out more on the 21st.

There was quite a bit of finger pointing and accusations and I?m still not sure where blame lies. There was unanimous support from all the board members at the meeting to vote NO on the contract but we haven?t been told if we were the only local to suffer such a hit on the contract. 600 voting NO will not stop the contract from going through. We will need the support of the other locals to vote the contract down.

As for comments about European countries having weak unions. Who knows, if we let this go through? we might be in the same boat in a few years. What can they take from us next?

BTW. I?m not a board member of the union. I?m just a concerned member trying to keep people up to date.

Thanks.
Denis Moran

PS. Thanks to everyone who showed up last night.
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#12 RonBaldwin

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 03:14 PM

thank you Denis for keeping us informed and staying on top of this. I hope all goes ok, but it's funny how we can vote no on stuff and it still passes (referring to past bs). Hmmm?

Ron B
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#13 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 07:25 PM

As I was at the meeting last night, let's make this clear:

WE, the members and operators did NOT GIVE this proposal and
our jobs up as we were accused of last night. Moments after this
accusation was made a distinguished DP
asked, "what changed this time around that the operator position was given up? Who
allowed this to happen." Our Local 600 President then clearly stated last night that he takes "100% of the blame" as it was him that said to the producers, "okay, if a DP wants to operate the camera
on a show, he can as long as he asks persmission of the IA during pre-production."

Well, I followed that open confession by
asking, "did you even think about the fact that what's going to happen is
that during the DP interview process, producers will ASK the DP if he's willing
to operate the camera him/herself, and if the DP says 'no I'd like to have
an operator' that DP won't be hired."
There was no real response to that question.

What ironically insued was more fingerpointing by our President to us ALL
for "giving this away" by saying we've allowed
DP's to operate without filing grievances, and saying so many
DP's want to operate themselves.
Several people asked who all these DP's that were demanding to operate were?
He could only come up with a couple DP's even though he claims
it's a large issue that happens all the time.

A point was brought up by someone that WE ALL occasionally "give up" a meal penalty or two,
10 minutes on our turnaround, or any number of other things in the interest of
good faith and harmony on the set with the producers. But that doesn't mean we want meal penalties, turnarounds, and every other benefit to be at the producer's discretion therefore rendering those
NECESSARY and RELEVANT benefits obsolute.

Next will be the loaders and then the still photographers.

We NEED as many of you as possible to call the union ask for Bob Wyar
and get on the list to attend the National Executive Board (NEB) meeting
Saturday 21st at 9:00am at the Hyatt in Hollywood.

What we need all of us to do is show up and make it clear that this decision
is NOT what the members want!! That point is blatantly clear by the outrage
of his decision.

If this goes through, operators around the country (and especially Los Angeles and New York)
better start to think of another career, because their will be a whole LOT of unemployed
camera operators over the next couple years. And like every other benefit
we've "given up" at contract times, 99% of the time we NEVER get them back.
The "A" Camera/Steadicam position will be a position of the past.
It will start to take place August 1st 2006, and progressively get worse as
Producers pressure DP's to operate on every show they're hired on.


Show your support, sign up and come to NEB.

Thanks.
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#14 Simon Jayes

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 07:45 PM

The upside of this, is that if the Operator position becomes optional then it must mean that our union dues become optional too...........right?!? ;)
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#15 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 13 January 2006 - 12:36 AM

Wish that would be the case. Well actually it might
be when hundreds of operators leave the business
for lack of work.

By the way Simon, when you guys were filming
on "For Your Consideration" across from us
on "Las Vegas" I noticed on one of your call
sheets that their was no "A" Camera Operator listed
and that the DP was operating the camera.

I called it in to Barbara who came out and apparently
made them hire another operator.
Who got the job?

And I told Gary Dunham this last night too.
It was one of my examples to his contrary that
we were "giving" our positions away and nobody
reported it when a DP was operating.
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