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Questions of the Day

Q.  I mailed my ratification vote back to my Local. Now what happens?
A. The votes will be tallied by each Local on July 2nd and reported on July 3rd. At that time, an announcement will be made regarding the results.

Thank you for voting; historically, the membership returns less than a third of the ballots that are sent out. That means that 2/3 of the membership are turning over the decision making regarding this contract to less than 1/3 of the members.

Q. How does the 2% raise in the new Basic Agreement compare to inflation in California?
A. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Southern California for the first quarter of 2012 is 2%.  Our  negotiated wage increase alone is 2%.  However, it is important to recognize that in addition to the wage increase the employers will be contributing an ADDITIONAL $1.00 per hour into the MPIPHP.  For a member making $33 per hour that equals an additional 3% on top of our wage increase.

Q. I've received my ballot in the mail and am making my decision about the Basic Agreement. If I vote no, is this also a strike vote? And if so, why?
A. Yes, if you elect to vote no, you will be electing to authorize a strike. The reason why is because this tentative agreement represents the best offer from the employers. In order to demand more, and not have the AMPTP view a return to the table as an opportunity to take back, your bargaining committee must have the authority to call a strike in the likely event that the employers are unwilling to increase their current offer.

Q. How many other entertainment unions do not pay premiums for their health care? 
A. Like the IATSE, the DGA and WGA do not pay premiums for their primary participants. However, for those with a dependent, the MPIPHP will be the least expensive option available among all the entertainment unions.

For more details on the various plans, click here for a graph (PDF). 

Q. What caused the healthcare deficit that we were facing this round of negotiations?
A. The major factors that increased the deficit were healthcare inflation, which has approached 10% in the last few years, and increased utilization of healthcare plans. These costs, coupled with declining investment returns due to the current recession and shrinking residual payments and DVD sales, led to more than a $400 million shortfall for our health and pension plans.

Q. What is the Memorandum of Agreement that arrived with my ballot for the 2012 Basic Agreement?
A. The MOA is a document that represent the results of the negotiations between the IATSE and the AMPTP. It outlines all negotiated changes to the agreement. Once ratified, these changes will be incorporated into the 2012 Basic and Local Agreements.

Q. I just got my Basic Agreement ballot in the mail. How long do I have to mail back my ballot?
A. All ballots must be received by July 2nd to count. So don’t delay!

Q. When do we get to vote on the proposed contract?
A. Memorandums of Agreements (which explain the elements of the new contract), along with a ballot, were mailed by the West Coast Studio Locals last week and should be arriving in West Coast IA member’s mailboxes soon.
For the last contract, only 30% of the membership voted. Make your voice heard and vote!

Q. To cover me and my family, what does our health plan actually cost? And what amount of that will I be asked to contribute under the new agreement?
A. The cost to the MPI is $5,800 per year for singles, $12,000 per year for 2 people and $19,000 for families.  If ratified, participants with 1 dependent will pay $25/month, and those with 2 or more dependents will pay $50/month. There will continue to be no premiums for members without dependents on the plan.

Q. Who negotiated this contract and what is their recommendation?

A. The bargaining committee was led by International President Matt Loeb and consisted of International officers and representatives, Local Union officers and committee members from each of the West Coast Studio Local Unions. This committee was supported by staff and hired professionals including actuaries, lawyers, health care consultants, and pension consultants.

The bargaining committee unanimously voted to recommend this contract for ratification by the members.

Q. Compared to the timing and length of past negotiations, how did this round differ and, if it was unusual, why so?

A. These negotiations didn’t begin until March and concluded on April 12th. This is the latest start and the latest conclusion to negotiations in recent history. The conclusion was delayed because negotiations broke off in March due to a dispute related to premiums in the health plan and how they would affect the membership, including whether single participants with no one else in the H&P plan would be required to pay premiums.

Q. What are the employers contributing in this new agreement to help close the health care shortfall we’re facing?

A. We fought hard for increased employer contribution into the plans and won a significant hourly rate hike. The employers will be increasing their hourly contribution into the Health and Pension Plans from approximately $5 per hour to $6 per hour. That additional $1/hr. represents a 20% increase. In the 3 year term of this agreement, it is estimated that this $1/hr. gain will generate an additional $225 million for the health plan. Furthermore, multiplying $6 by the 225 million hours that are estimated to be worked by members over the next 3 years, more than 1 billion dollars of employer money will be generated for MPIPHP.

Another major source of funding for the MPIPHP are residuals. Factoring in fluctuations dependent upon DVD and BluRay sales, download to own, pay TV, and other factors, residuals are estimated to generate almost $1 billion over the next 3 years.

Q. How did negotiating before our contract was up benefit us?
A. Two main reasons: Early negotiations promote industry stability and prevent a slowdown in production.  If we had not reached an agreement in March, employers would have begun planning for the potential of a strike come August when the Basic Agreement expires. The second reason is that there is value to the producers in being able to plan and budget past July and we used that value to our benefit.

Q: How does the employers’ contribution to the IAP work and what is the impact on my account once the 30 ½ cents per hour is reallocated to the health plan?
A: The current employer contribution to your Individual Account Plan (IAP)is 6% of scale wages PLUS 30 ½ cents per hour.  The new agreement calls for no change to the 6% contribution.  The 30 ½ cents will go to the active health plan beginning at the start of the next agreement.  No money will be removed from your IAP or from the 6% contribution.
 
Q. Compared to the timing and length of past negotiations, how did this round differ and, if it was unusual, why so?
A. These negotiations didn’t begin until March and concluded on April 12th. This is the latest start and the latest conclusion to negotiations in recent history. The conclusion was delayed because negotiations broke off in March due to a dispute related to premiums in the health plan and how they would affect the membership, including whether single participants with no one else in the H&P plan would be required to pay premiums.

Q. Were benefits reduced in this round of negotiations?
A. No. There are no benefit reductions in this contract.

Q. How does this deal compare with other Industry Guild agreements reached since our last negotiation?
A. Many will recall that the Industry pattern set after the IA negotiated last time was 2% wage increase and 1.5% increase in the benefits contribution. This agreement is richer than that pattern. Our increase of 2% and $1.00 per hour into the benefit plans is worth roughly 5% in the first year. The overall value of this contract for a member with a $33.00 wage rate is over 9%, front loaded, which means that all of the benefit increase go into the plan starting in the first year, rather than being spread out over three years as has been done in the past.

Q. If my spouse and I both work and qualify for MPIPHP, will we both have to pay premiums for our children?
A. No. Only one set of premiums will be required for children.

Q. The MPIPHP continues to have no annual deductible, how does that compare to other plans in the Industry?
A. The MPIPHP has no annual deductible for participants. This is compared against the other Hollywood unions/guilds that have deductibles ranging from $150.00 to $2,250.

Q. Does the IAP reallocation mean that money is going to be removed from my IAP account?
A. No. The money in your account will not be touched. Beginning July 29 the employer contribution of 30 1/2 cents per hour will be directed to the Health Plan. The 6% contribution to the IAP will not be effected.

Q. The MPIPHP continues to have no annual deductible, how does that compare to other plans in the Industry?
A. The MPIPHP has no annual deductible for participants. This is compared against the other Hollywood unions/guilds that have deductibles ranging from $150.00 to $2,250.

Q. How does our new agreement compare to inflation?
A. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Southern California for the first quarter of 2012 is 2%. Our negotiated wage increase alone is 2%. However, it is important to recognize that in addition to the wage increase the employers will be contributing an ADDITIONAL $1.00 per hour into the MPIPHP. For a member making $33 per hour that equals an additional 3% on top of our wage increase.

Q. Why did we bargain for premiums instead of a wage freeze? 
A. A wage increase is a better deal for the overwhelming majority of the IA members in the plan. The wage increase begins at the end of July and compounds each year. The premium payments begin in January of 2013.

Q. What will the reallocated 30.5 cents from the IAP pay for?
A. Members will recall that in the past, money was reallocated from the health plan into the IAP. The shift back into the Health Plan begins on August 1, 2012. Maintaining 8 months of reserves in the Health Plan allows for 13th and 14th checks for those who retired before 2009.

Q. When do we get to vote on the proposed contract?
A. Currently the language of the memorandum of agreement is being reviewed by both the IATSE and AMPTP. It will be sent to the membership for ratification as soon as it is finalized. When you do receive your ballot in the mail, please make your voice heard and vote.

Q. To cover me and my family, what does our health plan actually cost? And what amount of that will I be asked to contribute under the new agreement?
A. The cost to the MPI is $5,800 per year for singles, $12,000 per year for 2 people and $19,000 for families. If ratified, participants with 1 dependent will pay $25/month, and those with 2 or more dependents will pay $50/month. There will continue to be no premiums for members without dependents on the plan.

Q. Who negotiated this contract and what is their recommendation?
A. The bargaining committee was led by International President Matt Loeb and consisted of International officers and representatives, Local Union officers and committee members from each of the West Coast Studio Local Unions. This committee was supported by staff and hired professionals including actuaries, lawyers, health care consultants, and pension consultants.

The bargaining committee unanimously voted to recommend this contract for ratification by the members.

Q. What concessions were granted to Network TV and Feature Films?
A. None. The Employers proposed massive rollbacks in TV that would have resulted in wage cuts of 20% or more. These proposals were rejected by the union.

Q. Compared to the timing and length of past negotiations, how did this round differ and, if it was unusual, why so?
A. These negotiations didn't begin until March and concluded on April 12th. This is the latest start and the latest conclusion to negotiations in recent history. The conclusion was delayed because negotiations broke off in March due to a dispute related to premiums in the health plan and how they would affect the membership, including whether single participants with no one else in the H&P plan would be required to pay premiums.

Q. How did negotiating before our contract was up benefit us?
A. Two main reasons: Early negotiations promote industry stability and prevent a slowdown in production. If we had not reached an agreement in March, employers would have begun planning for the potential of a strike come August when the Basic Agreement expires. The second reason is that there is value to the producers in being able to plan and budget past July and we used that value to our benefit.

Q. Why were Basic Cable and Home video negotiated now?
A. These areas were specifically addressed because they are either not being produced in LA (Home Video) or they are at risk of leaving Los Angeles.  This was designed to keep Basic Cable Television in LA.

Q. How were Basic Cable and Home Video Production dealt with?
A. Home Video projects may use the Movie of the Week (MOW) or Low Budget Agreements. Basic Cable TV Productions shot in Los Angeles will continue to be treated the same way as they have since 2003. The first year will be Movie of the Week rates the second year rates will lag one year and in the third year the rates will lag one year. In the fourth year of a basic cable series the full Basic Agreement will apply.

Q. Did the eligibility hours go up?
A. No.  There will be no increase in the qualifying hours. The employers proposed to increase the pension hours from 400 to 1000 to earn a qualified year under the pension and retiree health plan but that proposal was rejected by the Union.

Q. How does this deal compare with other Industry Guild agreements reached since our last negotiation?
A. Many will recall that the Industry pattern set after the IA negotiated last time was 2% wage increase and 1.5% increase in the benefits contribution. This agreement is richer than that pattern. Our increase of 2% and $1.00 per hour into the benefit plans is worth roughly 5% in the first year. The overall value of this contract for a member with a $33.00 wage rate is over 9%, front loaded, which means that all of the benefit increase go into the plan starting in the first year, rather than being spread out over three years as has been done in the past.

Q. How does the employers' contribution to the IAP work and what is the impact on my account once the 30 ½ cents per hour is reallocated to the health plan?
A. The current employer contribution to your Individual Account Plan (IAP)is 6% of scale wages PLUS 30 ½ cents per hour. The new agreement calls for no change to the 6% contribution. The 30 ½ cents will go to the active health plan beginning at the start of the next agreement. No money will be removed from your IAP or from the 6% contribution.

Q. If I vote no for this contract, am I also voting to strike?
A. If you elect to vote no, you will be electing to authorize a strike. This tentative agreement represents the best offer from the employers. In order to demand more and not have the employers view a return to the table as an opportunity to take back, your bargaining committee must have the authority to call for a strike in the likely event that the employers are unwilling to increase their current offer.

Q. Will I get a copy of the proposed changes before I vote? 
A. Yes, each member will receive a memorandum of agreement that will contain all of the details of the new contract, along with a ballot and voting instructions.

Q. Will my benefits be cut?
A. No. There are no benefit reductions in this contract.

Q. Does the IAP reallocation mean that money is going to be removed from my IAP account?
A. No. The money in your account will not be touched. Beginning July 29 the employer contribution of 30 1/2 cents per hour will be directed to the Health Plan. The 6% contribution to the IAP will not be effected.

Q. The MPIPHP continues to have no annual deductible, how does that compare to other plans in the Industry? 
A. The MPIPHP has no annual deductible for participants. This is compared against the other Hollywood unions/guilds that have deductibles ranging from $150.00 to $2,250.

Q. How does our new agreement compare to inflation? 
A. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics(www.bls.gov) the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in Southern California for the first quarter of 2012 is 2%. Our negotiated wage increase alone is 2%. However, it is important to recognize that in addition to the wage increase the employers will be contributing an ADDITIONAL $1.00 per hour into the MPIPHP. For a member making $33 per hour that equals an additional 3% on top of our wage increase.

Q. Are there any increase to the Prescription Drug co-pays?
A. No. The prescription drug co-pays will remain as they are.