In Local 600’s recent newsletter, President Poster took “a moment to celebrate our recent victory at the IATSE convention to adopt our resolution of long hours” but then, very quickly switches “to our attention the equally pressing issue of Radio Frequency transmitters.” He writes about the dangers of Radio Frequency and says that “Local 600 is taking this matter to the industry-wide Safety Committee which established safety regulations for the motion picture and television industry. We want to make sure our members aren’t put in harm’s way.”
Poster has not taken the issue of fatigue to the Industry Wide Safety Committee. Poster has not notified the CSATF of the unanimous decision of all locals which begins with this, “There exists indisputable evidence from scientific, medical and empirical studies linking sleep deprivation and fatigue to critical safety and health hazards.”
Poster, talking about Radio Frequency, urges workers not to be silent out of fear of losing a job. “I want you all to know that the union will be there for you on any kind of work related problem.” That’s about RF. How about after the fifth sixteen-hour day, a member says it’s not safe on this set? Will it be sufficient if the 1st AD offers a ride with a sleep deprived teamster to a hotel?
Again, Poster about RF, “Your safety comes first!” The exclamation mark is correct within the quote. The bizarre, illogical anti-human attitude of Poster and the very, very high and detached autocrats who run the profitable business enterprises do not want their “managerial flexibility” challenged.
It is the complete and verifiable truth, sleep deprived workers are unsafe, unhealthy, dangerous to themselves, the public and destructive to family life.
To equate this as just another equally pressing issue, Poster evidences either despicable ignorance or calculated avoidance of the truth.
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.
Our Guild offers up members at varying prices and conditions depending on what the corporations (large and small) say they can pay or are willing to pay.
The Guild does not, and cannot, guarantee excellence or competence. We serve as a convenience for employers, giving them access to a cohesive labor pool. High budget pictures will buy into the Guild to avoid the expensive disruption of a picket line. They buy the contract as nuisance protection.
Competent workers are available all over the world and pour out of film schools at 100,000 per year. On graduating they work non-union, make their friends and work contacts in the non-union world.
A high level of professional competence is not producers primary concern. Particularly now with “we fix it in post.” On set controls of density, color and framing diminishes the necessity of Guild member professionalism.
A Union, a “Trade Union,” is an alliance, an organized association to further common interests. Traditionally our common interest is for better working conditions, better wages, better safety, job security and an opportunity to have work that enables us to enjoy family, friends and quality of life.
Who are we Local 600 I.A.T.S.E.?
Where do we fit?
Where are we headed?
Who runs the show?
How do we measure progress?
What definition, Guild or Union? How our leadership has performed on the subject of “Hazardous to Your Life” may well reveal in the clearest way many complicated questions. Guild or Union not just words but a critical concept.
My film “Four Days in Chicago” was shot when President Obama invited the world’s most powerful military alliance, NATO to meet in my home town. Today’s Chicago Tribune features a review of “Four Days in Chicago” written by Nina Mets in her “Chicago Close-up” column. You can read it in it’s entirety here.
Thank you, Chancellor Block. I am gratified to receive this medal.
This sure may well be the highest honor a drop-out from UC Berkeley has ever received. I did have 5 years of non-academic education at sea.
Oh yes, I did get a medal from President Franklin Roosevelt.
And Dean Rosen, I am also honored to be here with you. Even though you’re retiring, the basic mission of this program will continue. I am so admiring of the school’s commitment to connect high standards of professionalism in Theatre, Film, Television and Digital Media with the social issues of the real world.
Greetings, storytellers! Welcome to Life. The Movie.
I see Professor Marina Goldovskaya in the audience. Hi Marina! I think it was 1970 or so when you interviewed me for Soviet television. I had just completed the U.S. scenes for my film “War Without Winners” and now I needed shots of Russian autoworkers. Paul Newman and Admiral Gene LaRoque put up the money because they wanted to speak out about the insanity of nuclear war. Mutually Assured Destruction—MAD. Good Americanism against evil, godless Communism.
Do we feel more secure now that we have improved and remote ways to kill and destroy: it’s reality, not a video game. Now the ism is terrorism. How do you kill an ism?
When I was making my picture “Latino” I was up close to U.S. sponsored terrorism in Nicaragua. They were called Contras. President Regan said, “They were the morally equivalent of our founding fathers.”
I liked the picture “Dead Man Walking”. Sean Penn’s character sentenced to death for murder was asked for last words. “Killing is bad… if I do it, you all do it, or if the government does it.”
You are graduating. I know the pressures out there are very strong for you to accept the conventional definitions of success. We are storytellers committed to entertain and engage our viewers. I believe you, as artists, can have a conscience and still do good, professional work.
Life “the movie”. They try to sell us a scenario that we are the good guys, the chosen ones with God on our side. That we fight back. That we have the right. Some even call it patriotic duty… to bring civilization to the rest of the planet.
Shortly before he died, President Kennedy gave a commencement address at American University about peace—what he called “the most important and least understood topic” in the world.
“What kind of peace do I mean?” JFK asked the graduates. “What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”
In a decaying society politics becomes Theater. Bruce Springsteen said, “We live in a time when what is true can be made to seem a lie. And what is a lie can be made to seem true.”
Orwell said that in a time of deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. I am not asking you to commit a revolutionary act. I am asking if you will accept the challenge to be artful storytellers and truth seekers.
Your stories can have an affect on this world. They are an essential part of our moral conversation. As skilled and talented artists, you have a responsibility to yourself, and to all of us.
I remember 43 years ago we were involved in the Viet Nam war. When I received an Academy Award, on the way up to the stage, I thought this might be the only time in my life to speak to millions of people. I said what was in my heart, what was then considered unpatriotic words, “I hope we can use our art for peace and love.”
One change I like to make now – we must use our art for “peace and love”.
A few weeks ago I posted the following on my blog:Our Union Health and Safety resolution says: “there exists indisputable evidence from scientific, medical and empirical studies linking sleep deprivation and fatigue to critical safety and health hazards.” This truth is not denied by anybody who works excessive hours making entertainment, and that includes producers and directors that are obliged to supervise our employment conditions. Even OSHA, a government-chartered organization, “is well aware of the hazards of long work hours and extended workshifts. OSHA has publically acknowledged that fatigue is a risk factor for occupational injuries and illnesses.” So why do we continue doing something which seriously impinges on our health and safety?
I received the following reply:
Everybody AGREES with you Haskell. The statics they are compiling now are about how many productions are doing absurdly long days, how many hours and on what kinds of productions, so that they can PROVE that it is not a rare occurrence but a constant and widespread abuse. They KNOW it’s dangerous and killing people and disrupting lives and health…but they need to show to what degree and how often this is happening to add to the ammunition so producers can’t claim it is a rare occurrence and shrug it off.
At this late date, why do we have to approve this when everybody knows whats going on. You speak of compiling statistics, this becomes a delaying tactic, a diversion from a subject that desperately needs immediate attention, A subject of life and death for our members. A unanimous IA has spoken, Local 600 is dropping the ball.
HASKELL’S LETTER TO JOHN STOCKWELL
August 12, 2013
Remember me? I was the cameraman on the 1975 documentary The Case Officer —that was you. I just came across your revised writing on The United States in Search of Enemies. I want to compliment you for your 1987 insights about the extent of the government-organized system. You were a premature whistleblower, but then, they didn’t have to go to the extent of calling you unpatriotic. Just keeping your revelations from the public eye was sufficient for them to keep the American people deceived.
It’s interesting to see three contemporary whistleblowers — Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden — who broke through far enough for Obama to be obliged to do what the Wall Street Journal refers to as “tweak” the secret system of deceit.
I guess this letter is a fan letter. You told the truth and you saw it from the inside.
I suspect you would not like to be known as a revolutionary. But please take note of this quote from Orwell:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
In June 1987 Stockwell asked, “Is the United States working to reduce the tensions and hate, to ameliorate the conditions of world insecurity, to calm the world down in the interests of peace?” He answered, “No, our policies attest to a fact they are designed to have exactly the opposite effect. For example, in the Angolan covert action that I personally managed for a subcommittee of the National Security Council in 1975, one third of my staff consisted of professional propagandists whose responsibility was to find ingenious ways to introduce stories into the world and United States media that would make people believe Soviets and Cubans and not the U.S. were responsible for bloodshed in Angola.” — “Part of each destabilization is a propaganda campaign designed to persuade the American people of often mythical dangers to “justify actions.”
“Meanwhile the American people are carefully conditioned to see the other side in a negative threatening light and our own government and system inherently ‘right.’”
Saul Landau and I filmed him in 1975. In 1987, he wrote The United States in Search of Enemies, and said:
Since 1947 when the National Security Act was created to supply CIA “Information to the executive branch of government.” The original stated intention was reformed by the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and all other limitations erased completely by the blank check which reads, “Performing such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the President or the Director of National Intelligence may direct.”
A friend who is typing this asked if I were concerned about “getting in trouble.” I explained I am already on the official shit list, because I filmed Good Kurds, Bad Kurds with journalist Kevin McKiernan, and some Kurds are officially Designated Terrorists.
If you want to know who John Stockwell is, click here.
Our Union Health and Safety resolution says:
“there exists indisputable evidence from scientific, medical and empirical studies linking sleep deprivation and fatigue to critical safety and health hazards.”
This truth is not denied by anybody who works excessive hours making entertainment, and that includes producers and directors that are obliged to supervise our employment conditions.
Even OSHA, a government-chartered organization, “is well aware of the hazards of long work hours and extended workshifts. OSHA has publically acknowledged that fatigue is a risk factor for occupational injuries and illnesses.” So why do we continue doing something which seriously impinges on our health and safety?
Strangely, the answer can be found in a far away Russian city on the slopes of the Ural mountains. The NY Times headline reads: “Russian City Named for Asbestos Can’t Give up it’s Carcinogenic Livelihood.”
Workers develop asbestosis, a respiratory illness caused by breathing in asbestos fibers which scar lung tissue. Asbestos exposure also causes cancer. The town of Asbestos “is one of the more extreme examples of the environmental cost of modern Russia’s deep reliance on mining.”
A former employee says, “Every normal person is trying to get out of here.” “Gasping for air,” he asks, “If we didn’t have the factory, how would we live?”
It may be less apparently dramatic than the Russians with asbestos, but we also make a Faustian bargain with the multinational corporations who call the tune in the profitable enterprise known as entertainment. In either case, it is strikingly clear that corporate greed has tipped the scales against human priorities.
In our case, those organizations chartered to protect us — like OSHA, like the SEC, the FDA and the CDC — all seem to be rendered impotent by compromised politicians of both parties. The longer we remain quiet about this Faustian deal, the more we are obliged to accept it as a natural phenomenon.