Where Are Hollywoods Union Jobs GoingPosted on May 23rd, 2014 by Lenny Alsfeld
Calling three states “the Runaway 3,” a report today on Deadline.com cites rapid expansion in production-related trade union membership in identifying where much of the runaway production is heading after it leaves Hollywood.
“The once-tiny IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees] film and TV production locals in Georgia, Louisiana and New Mexico have seen their memberships skyrocket in recent years as more and more productions leave L.A. in search of bigger and better tax incentives,” the story reports. “They’re where most of the domestic runaway production jobs are running away to.”
The piece reports that the Georgia film and TV workers union has experienced a membership increase of 1,100% in the past 11 years, with the IATSE production local in Louisiana climbing 900% since 2003 and membership in New Mexico’s film local up by 800% since 2001.
“IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 479 in Atlanta may be the fastest-growing union in the U.S.,” the story reports. “In 2003, it had only 191 members; six years later, after the state’s 2008 tax incentives took effect, the local’s membership doubled in consecutive years, doubled again two years later, then nearly doubled again two years after that. It’s now the largest IATSE local outside of Los Angeles and New York, and if it continues to grow at this rate, in a few years it will be the largest in North America.”
TV programs that have filmed in Georgia in recent years include AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” and Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva,” the story notes. Meanwhile, the state has hosted feature film productions including “Anchorman 2,” “The Blind Side,” “Identity Thief,” “Trouble With the Curve” and “Need for Speed.”
It’s not just tax breaks that are drawing production away from L.A., the report adds. “Besides the tax incentives, producers who shoot in Georgia also get discounts on wages,” the piece notes. “Union films shot in L.A. and New York are covered by IATSE’s basic contract; films shot elsewhere are covered by IATSE’s cheaper Area Standards Agreement, which gives producers yet another incentive to flee California. If not for the union, most of those jobs — if not all of them — would be low-paying non-union jobs, because Georgia is a right-to-work state, where unions are not allowed to require membership as a condition of employment.”
For local unions in the states where runaway productions are landing, the trend is paying big financial dividends. “A dozen years ago, IATSE Studio Mechanics Local 479 in the Big Easy was an obscure IATSE local with only 138 members. But after the Louisiana Legislature passed the Motion Picture Tax Incentive Act of 2002, the local’s membership began a rapid expansion that continues today,” the Deadline piece reports. “Thanks in large part to dues it collects from workers employed on runaway productions, the New Orleans union is now the richest IATSE local outside of Los Angeles and New York. In 2001, it only had $60,197 in total assets; today the figure is $6.5 million — a staggering 100-fold increase. And revenue is up 40-fold during the same period, from $57,701 to more than $2.4 million.”