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Kevin Joelson

Question for local 600 members

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I am acquiring my 100 non-union days at a rapid rate. I've collected my letters from the production companies, saved my deposit slips and copied my checks. I am a DP but am collecting more days as an operator. I can actually bend the rules here since most of the stuff I DP'ed I operated too. But the operating jobs have been more abundant because of reality TV. So I have chosen path as a Cam Op. What are my choices and what are my limitations once I get in and on the roster. I have heard from so many prospective 600 canadates to go in as a loader. Others have told me to go in as an Op. I am kinda confused on what my plan should be. Should I go in as a DP? Should I get into the 600 at all? I figured if I prove the days why not?

Thanks for the help

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You should go in the category you want to work in, and for which you have to days for. No reason to join as a loader if you want to operate. No reason to join at all if you aren't potentially going to be offered union work anyway.


I worked non-union for about a decade before the budgets increased to the point where I was potentially going to need to be in the union, so I joined then.


You can get approved by Contract Services and then wait awhile before spending the money to join (within limits I believe). Plus you can pay in installments over a two year period I think.


But I think you should join in the category you are planning on doing union work in, rather than joining at some lower category and then trying to jump up, unless you really are planning on taking union work in that lower category.


But if you want to join as a DP, then your 100 days as to have been as a DP and your paycheck / contracts / deal memos should have listed you as a DP, not an operator.


It costs like $9000 to join as a DP, plus $1000/year in dues, so don't join unless you really are going to be getting offers for union DP work.

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Thanks for the reply,


So do I need to provide deal memos to contract services? What all do I need to show them. I know about the letters, paychecks and deposit records...What else do I need?


I would never go in as a loader...I just heard from young (poor) filmmakers that it was the quick option to get in to the 600. The dues were not as high.


I would want to go in as a DP but going in as an Cam Op wouldn't kill me. If there was the chance to move up. By the way how would one move up if they got in, in this position.


I don't plan on jumping into the union right away. I just want to have all of my "Proofs" ready to go if the opportunity arises.


David if you have copies of any paperwork I might need to provide...

Also it you wouldn't mind me taking a look at your letters, could you email them to me at mediamilitia@yahoo.com


I just want to be covered for the future.


Thank You for your time!

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You have to be ready should Contract Services rejects the proof you send them (and keep copies because they lose stuff!!!)


But in my case, I was lucky. I noticed that my paychecks were handled by three different payroll companies, so I contacted them. One was already out of business, one didn't return my calls, but the biggest one was really friendly to me, and just from that company, I had worked over 100 days in the three-year period over a couple of projects.


So the nice lady at the payroll company sent a letter to Contract Services telling them the number of days I worked, etc.


Simple -- except that when I called Contract Services a month later to see how my application was going, they had lost the letter! Luckily I had a copy so I gave them another copy of it. But that one letter was enough proof to get in, so I didn't have to mess with gathering other evidence.


Basically, besides the payroll company's letter, your alternatives are showing copies of paycheck stubs listing your name and job on the show. After that, you can try getting letters from producers... but Contract Services starts to become selective about what they allow, what they believe I guess.


I don't know what's involved in moving up once you're in the union, but it happens.

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So a production company letter will not work? The letters have to be from the payroll office? What if it's the production company that's giving you the check and not a payroll company?


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If there was no payroll company (which is rare in Los Angeles with all the IRS restrictions regarding being a self-employed independent contractor versus an employee, etc.) involved then it would have to be a letter from the production company, yes.


But it's hard to beat having a paycheck with your name and job title printed on it as proof. Letters from companies or producers can be faked so Contract Services will eye them more critically. But if you don't have a choice, then that's what you have to do.

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It is much harder to prove your worked days from a letter by the production company. I have heard from people that have tried to join that way get rejected by contract services. The other thing is, what makes that letter more authentic then the one you can just make yourself?


I had an easy way to get in as well. I was permitted to work on a union show and only had to show proof of 30 consecutive Union days and that's how I was able to prove my worked days. I had the payroll comapny send the letter of those days to contract services. Contract services gave me a hard time saying that i needed more proof. It was a long time ago and I can't remember what happened but things worked out.

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