Don’t Monkey With the Lone Ranger…


This picture above is a still from my 1968 film “Medium Cool” it heads this article titled:  “‘Medium Cool’ is Still the Most One-Of-A-Kind Movie Ever Made.”

In this clip from “Four Days in Chicago”, 2012, citizens were demonstrating, in protest against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and their war making policy.

In ’68 and now, when our war making policy seems threatened, the full force of militarized police and Homeland Security makes themselves visible under the guise of protecting our security.

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No Swords for Plowshares…


A dilemma of our militarized state: re-use or recycle this MRAP vehicle from Afghanistan. Military equipment is going to local police forces. To send this MRAP home costs fifty thousand dollars. It costs ten thousand to destroy it where it is.

A real dilemma, but not for the arms merchants.

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Two Presidents

Democrat President Obama ordered U.S. fighter planes to bomb militants in Iraq. They are described as potential threats to the security of the United States and to our “interests.”
A Republican President said; “Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of it’s scientists, the hopes of it’s children.”

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Written On The Way To My Conversation At The Hammer…

George Orwell

The deceptions and allusions that have caused most Americans and their elected representatives to completely ignore facts, logic, and reason when we rush to war.

The media plays a critical role in preserving the status quo and careful never to offend the ruling elite.

Being contrary at best called “controversial” and most commonly characterized as “un-patriotic”. How we deal with whistle-blowers is critical to understanding our democracy.

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What’s Wrong With This Ad?



 I tried to place it in our union magazine, ICG. I was set to pay the going rates, but it was rejected, they say, because “the magazine only accepts ads that sell products.”

 Trying to abide by the rules, I submitted this second ad, selling the new 12 On 12 Off hats:

hat ad color

 This one was rejected as, “too political.” I assume that TAKING A STAND IN THE FIGHT AGAINST LONG HOURS is “too political.”

 So, in an effort to conform, this third ad’s copy refers only to the selling of the lighted hat. The only words that some may consider “political” are a direct quote of an IATSE Resolution.

 revised hat ad COLOR

 Rejected again!

 In a message from Associate Publisher Teresa Munoz, I was told that the magazine/union relationship is like a “separation of church and state situation, where the magazine is separate from the union, and they don’t want to deal with anything that is the least bit ‘political.’”

 What are the complete rules to put an ad in our union magazine? Angry and frustrated with the lack of clarity, I asked to be given them in writing. To this date, I have received nothing.

 However… apparently that request didn’t go unnoticed! I received an urgent Sunday call from an obviously upset President Poster. I guess he feels it’s just Haskell, always trying to make trouble with his campaign against long hours. He told me that I don’t seem to understand the situation. He told me that he’s on a picture, and he’ll explain it to me when he “gets around to it.”

 There’s much more to this story than just the rejection of these ads. With your help, I think we need to examine the fundamental question; are we a Guild or a Union?

 A GUILD was a medieval association of similar trade or craft. Shoemakers, Tinsmiths, artisans, etc. They associated to make standards of excellence and limited the people to join by requiring high standard tests. Being a guild member was a guarantee of quality to the Feudal Lords. With mass production the quality of the shoemaker was not a factor. Working at a machine, his “guild artisan status” disappeared and Feudal Lords became corporate.

 UNION’s were formed to protect and advance the status workers. The struggle for union recognition, for the 8-hour day was full of sacrifice and courage in the face of repression and violence.

 We changed the name of our Union to a Guild. Our magazine, our literature, speak little about organizing, little about wages, safety, job security – nothing about oppressive greedy bosses or the meaning of the words, “it’s not in the budget.” We do have seminars to concentrate on all those things which may make us better technicians, more desirable craftsmen for the corporations who are now the Feudal Masters.

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Who’s Magazine?

hat ad color


Our Union Magazine ICG refuses to accept this advertisement because the “sale of the product is much less important than the message.” The “message” is loud and clear, it’s the IATSE’s message at the top of the page. And then there is 12on12off’s confirmation; “As human beings, we believe that every person’s health, safety, and life is worth more than any film or TV show we can produce.”

Strange what a Union magazine considers forbidden words. But then editor David Geffner boasts, “we are the best industry magazine.”

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Open Letter to IATSE President Matthew D. Loeb…

Dear President Loeb,

Hollywood Reporter quotes Kent Jorgensen and identifies him as a top Union official. In writing about assistant camera Sarah Jones,  he speaks of a “manifestation of a too common lack of a regard for safety.” Alluding to the sleep depriving work he says; “I’m a union leader, I’ve got a faction that wants one thing, another one that wants something else. Some people want to stop hours. Some say, ’I want to pay for my boat with my overtime.’ It’s a tough call.”

At the 2013 I.A.T.S.E. Quadrennial Convention a unanimous Resolution was passed beginning with these words:

“There exists indisputable evidence from scientific, medical and empirical studies linking sleep deprivation and fatigue to critical safety and health hazards.”

The Resolution warns, “this is a critical issue of health, safety and life.” Not a subject for negotiations.

How can Jorgensen to be quoted as talking about factions within our organization when the IA has spoken with all the authority of a Resolution? Will you, Mr. President, correctly state the IA position publicly? Is there a discipline procedure in place to deal with a  top Union official speaks publicly, contradicts a unanimous decision made by the membership and expressed in that Resolution?



Haskell Wexler

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Letter to Vice President Michael Miller

 March 14th, 2014


Mike Miller

6th Vice President IATSE

1430 Broadway, 20th Floor

New York, NY 10018


Dear Michael Miller,


I know you are very aware that our members consider sleep depriving short turnaround and the long drives to and from work as primary safety hazards.

There is no question IA workers are on pictures with scheduled 14, 16, or more hours.

There is no question a prime safety concern of all members is sleep deprivation and the longer and longer drives to and from the job.

There is no question the Long Hours Resolution was adopted by 805 delegates to the 67th Quadrennial IATSE convention. This was a unanimous decision.

The Resolution states, “There exists indisputable evidence from scientific, medical and empirical studies linking sleep deprivation and fatigue to critical safety and health hazards.”

The IA acknowledges safety, health and well-being of our members to be of the greatest concern.

There is no question the AFL-CIO report on the state of safety and health protection is entitled, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” and that “long hours of work and the way work is organized is a major health and safety issue.”

You spoke at Sarah’s candlelight vigil. You said, “no worker should ever be afraid of speaking up or refusing to participate when they feel they are in an unsafe situation.” It is a fact, by definition, sleep deprived workers are in an “unsafe situation.” Did you notice the back of the Sarah T-shirt? WE ARE ALL SARAH JONES.

You know that as individuals we cannot complain. That’s why we have every right to expect our Union to speak for us. Certainly this is true when our safety, our health, and our very lives are at stake! As a Union officer, you know employers will have us work longer for less money under questionable safety conditions because it is their duty to prioritize the bottom line. It is to our credit, and the credit of the 850 Union brothers who voted unanimously in favor of the Long Hours Resolution.

This, is a part of a letter assistant cameraman Robert Rendon sent to me:

A couple of days ago on my way home from work at 5am, I wrecked my car. The scariest part of my experience was the fact that I was no more tired as usual when I crashed. I was not dozing off, nodding my head nor driving with heavy eyelids. It was as if someone turned off a power switch in my head. As my awareness came back online, I found myself colliding with a bus stop. I am physically ok but my car was not. I am very lucky- not only for myself but also for not killing anyone waiting on a bus.

You should read the whole letter, which includes Rendon was the,“4th car wreck on this production in a couple of weeks.” This situation is not unusual! Rendon writes; “…our clocked hours are consistently 14-15 hours each day within a five day week. We consistently have 1-1 ½ hours drive time each way off the clock. We often go 8 hours before our first meal and are rarely offered a walking 2nd meal. Our schedule is a roller coaster with an early Monday morning call and the week ending on a Saturday morning around 8A.”

If assistant cameraman Rendon killed himself when he wrecked his car, would we have organized a candle light parade for him? Since the death of assistant cameraman Brent Hirschman, who crashed after a nineteen hour day, we could have had many memorials for the victims of extreme hours.

The organization 12on12off has archived a litany of horror stories. They are available to you, to our Local, who has often stated, “the safety, health, and well-being of our members to be of the greatest concern.”

As scheduled hours increased, fatigue cases piled up. Employers received advice from insurance company lawyers, that they make sure that safety meetings encourage workers to announce when they are fatigued and that the employer will offer a hotel. They’re concerned because OSHA rule #7 says:

No one shall knowingly be permitted or required to work while the employee’s ability or alertness is so impaired by fatigue, illness or other causes that it might unnecessarily expose the employee or others to injury.

In far less noticed than Rendon’s particular case, and many less reported, shows “offer-a-ride” has changed the conversation to blame the worker for not realizing that he or she is tired. President Poster has not communicated to producers the strong, good decision of the IA on this subject. Instead he wrote congratulatory letters to producers who provide “courtesy housing”. It is clear that the offer for a hotel is a useless band-aid to our work schedule.

12on12off has always stated this fundamental issue: “We believe that every person’s health safety and life is worth more than any film or TV show we can produce.” I guess Poster was paying homage to 12on12off when he  paraphrased us with, “no TV show, no movie, and no job opportunity is worth the sacrifice of a human life.”

Sarah’s father told me he prays she will not have died in vain and that our passion to get the shot will not lead others to gamble in an unsafe situation.

Continuing excessive sleep depriving jobs are deadly. Who will speak for us? So far, not the IA even though we have a unanimous resolution. On Friday, March 28th, 12on12off calls for all work to stop after 12. No work on Saturday. NO FRATURDAY.


In Solidarity,

Haskell Wexler

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Boxer, Galassi, OSHA, and NIOSH…


Barbara Boxer, in her June 19th letter about OSHA:

They have informed me that they have responded to your concerns of long work hours and sleep-deprivation for                     workers in the motion picture industry on two occasions.

OSHA is well aware of the hazards of long work hours and has publicly acknowledged the problem for years.

Included in Enforcement Director Thomas Galassi’s letter are two OSHA documents where the subject is sleep deprivation. Thomas Galassi says that OSHA is well aware of sleep deprivation and the deadly hazards of long work hours and extended work shifts. He says OSHA has publically acknowledged insufficient sleep is closely connected to injuries and serious illnesses.

He suggested I read OSHA’s FAQ on “Extended Unusual Workshifts and OSHA Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes.” All of this is news to the workers involved. Nothing in the many years of communications has OSHA ever stated a position, privately or publicly, to warn about sleep deprivation. See my film “Who Needs Sleep” for the real world on this subject. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy New Year!

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