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WHO WE ARE

We are game workers joining with our entertainment colleagues to form RPG-IATSE.  Rights & Protections for Gameworkers (RPG-IATSE) is a new effort by the IATSE, the largest entertainment union in the US & Canada. 

For over 125 years, the IATSE has worked with the largest names in the entertainment industry, including Sony, Disney and Warner Media to hold them accountable for fair treatment of their workers.  

Now it’s our turn to gain the rights and protections almost every other entertainment worker has!

WHY UNIONIZE?

Script supervisors of IATSE Local 871 on the set of Star Wars

The IATSE was built by freelancers in the entertainment industry who faced long, unpredictable hours, precarious employment and health care, and pay that didn’t reflect their contribution to the industry.  Over the years the IATSE has brought workers together from all corners of the industry to fight and win:

  • Portable benefits including health care, pension/annuity, and training funds that are consistent from employer to employer
  • Fair pay and royalties to compensate workers contribution to the art that they help produce
  • Advocating for and enforcing fair standards and protections for workers that can be applied throughout the industry

Only a union has the legal power to negotiate on equal footing with employers and the ability to codify the benefits won in a binding contract.

IATSE has the industry experience to win major gains on crunch, continuous health coverage and other important issues for game workers.  Following are some examples of game industry issues, and how the IATSE has been able to address them in film, tv, and theater.

Some Rights and Protections IATSE has won on:

Working around the clock? No overtime?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Fair Overtime Pay

✔ A defined number of hours off before you’re expected back at work

✔ Paid rides home or hotel room to ensure your safety

Arbitrary pay scale? Lack of transparency for raises and promotions? 

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Negotiated pay raises

✔ Transparent processes

✔ Retention incentive

Reduced or no health benefits because you’re temporary or a contractor? 

IATSE HAS WON:

✔  Industry-wide portable benefits plans (health, pension/annuity, training)

✔  Healthcare moves with you from employer to employer, continuous coverage

Worried about layoffs after crunch? Worried about overnight studio closings? 

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Negotiated impact of layoffs on affected employees

✔ Accountability for non-discrimination in layoffs

✔ Preference in re-hiring

Concerned about harassment and discrimination in the workplace?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Provided representation and advocacy in discrimination cases

✔ Negotiated stronger protections for LGBTQ folks beyond what local and federal law requires

✔ Won pay parity for historically non-male job classifications

Crediting policies confusing, unfair, or non-existent? The typical NDA hinders your career progress?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Labor management workgroups that can address important issues like crediting policies and NDAs. 

Only offered a contract position but want to be eligible for unemployment, health care or workers’ comp?

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Strong protections and enforcement to stop employers from abusing contract employees and freelancers

Anything that is a term or condition of employment—that people in your studio want to address—is fair game for bargaining.

IATSE HAS WON:

✔ Improved safety standards and enforcement—currently working on “safe return to work” standards with epidemiologists to protect workers returning to productions during COVID-19

✔ Working on diversity in the hiring pipeline

✔ Advocating for new work-from-home policies & support

FORMING A UNION

This is a very brief overview. Contact us for more information (see below). 

In 2019, the Bojack Horseman crew joined The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839
Forming a Union

A union is a group of workers getting together to improve working conditions in their workplace and industry.  Under US labor law, once a majority of employees in a workplace demonstrate they want a union, either by signing cards saying they want a union or voting for a union, a union is formed at their workplace. Canadian labor law is similar, though in some provinces, workers don’t need to go through a second demonstration of support, the way they often do in the US.

After Forming a Union—Negotiations

After forming a union, game workers:

  • Democratically elect a bargaining committee from their co-workers to negotiate with the employer
  • Survey everyone in the workplace on what kind of things they’d like to see improved and how
  • Vote to ratify the contract

The elected bargaining committee, helped by experienced IATSE staff, works to negotiate to achieve the best result that they can. When they feel they have good results, they present the tentative contract to the members at the workplace to vote on. Once members at that workplace vote to ratify their contract, it goes into effect, codifying the wages, benefits, and other working conditions.  It is only after the contract is ratified that membership dues would start.

Creating a Local Union

Generally around this same time, the new members also join or create a local union under the umbrella of the IATSE.  Within the IATSE, a local union is broader than just a workplace, and is geared to bringing various workplaces together to advocate for improvements across an industry.  For example, The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 represents animation artists, writers and technicians in film and tv, and the Arts & Cultural Workers Union (ACWU), IATSE Local B778, represents visual artists and art industry employees in British Columbia, Canada.

If RPG-IATSE becomes its own local, we would democratically elect our local union leadership. The local membership would decide what our local membership dues are in addition to the international dues prescribed by the IATSE Constitution (currently $57 a quarter). And, of course, we’d be eligible for the rights and protections being part of the biggest union in entertainment entails.

Freelancers

Freelancers employed directly by a studio would be eligible to participate in forming a union and negotiating a contract the same as any other employee.  For freelancers or contractors in other employment relationships, please contact us below to give us more details about your situation. 

CONTACT AN ORGANIZER

* Submissions to this form are strictly confidential