He accuses IATSE toppers of 'crushing spirit' to organize
Veteran vfx artist Dave Rand is blasting IATSE for what he calls the slow pace of the union’s drive to organize vfx workers.In an open letter to the Intl. Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees sent to Variety and prominent vfx biz websites, Rand criticizes what he terms IATSE’s lack of leadership in the drive it launched in November. He maintains that because IATSE organizers haven’t done much to push the issue forward, vfx artists have become disinterested in attending informational meetings about becoming unionized. IATSE declined to comment Sunday on Rand’s letter. The union has neither publicly put a timetable on its campaign, nor predicted a quick conclusion to its bid to organize workers in an industry that is far-flung and encompasses a wide range of companies of varying size and scope. IATSE declared its drive to unionize vfx workers in a letter to Visual Effects Society exec director Eric Roth in November. “You deserve the same dignity, benefits and voice in the workplace afforded to every other craftperson and creator,” IATSE prexy Matthew Loeb wrote at the time. But Rand, who has been a vocal proponent of unionization, asserts that the lack of activity in recent months has hurt the initiative, which comes at a time when pay scales and working conditions for vfx artists are deteriorating. He calls out Loeb by name for “crushing what little chance and what little spirit is left to finally unionize what’s becoming the most important part of the studios’ bottom line, the visual fx artists.” Vfx artists are still one of the largest non-unionized groups working in Hollywood today. Despite much discussion in the vfx community about unionizing, vfx workers still do not have access to key benefits like health insurance or retirement plans. They’re also vulnerable when working in other countries since there’s no union to intervene on their behalf if a company goes belly up and refuses to pay them for work they’ve already done. In addition to IATSE, the Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has expressed interest in organizing vfx artists. Rand urges IATSE to step up its effort or cede the organizing drive to another entity. “If this is the way you’re going to represent us, then please step aside and let the void be filled by true leaders,” he writes.