479 NEWS

Business Agent’s End of Year Report 2019

From the Desk of Mike Akins, Business Agent IATSE Local 479

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Local 479,

Another busy year for Georgia’s film industry has come to a close.

Production Remains Active

The past twelve months have seen more than 50 features, 57 episodic productions, and 10 pilots shot in our jurisdiction, providing more than 15,000 jobs to our members.  Local 479 members were hired to work on every union-made production in town, from the ultra-low budget Blast Beat and Alieu the Dreamer to high profile features like Bad Boys for Life, Jumanji 2, and Richard Jewell.  This year our members earned more than $300,000,000 in wages.

You may remember the 2018 End of the Year Report, which sounded a note of caution due to fluctuations caused by contract negotiations and a contentious gubernatorial race.  We are happy to report that 2019 was an altogether different experience.  Over the course of the year we watched as the volume of work in our jurisdiction began to return to the strength and frequency we experienced back in 2017, indicating that stability has been restored.

New Governor

In 2018, Georgia elected a new governor.  Throughout his campaign, Governor Kemp indicated that he was supportive of the film industry, and during his first year in office, the Governor made strong statements in continued support of our industry and its economic impact in our state.  The Georgia State House of Representatives and Senate have also made supportive statements expressing their commitment to the film industry – especially the tax incentive program.  For many years, the local has maintained a strong relationship with our sitting Governor, Speaker of the House, and Lieutenant Governor; and we plan to maintain those good working relationships.

As we expected, our new Governor began to address some of his other campaign promises last year as well.  Many states, including Georgia and Alabama, pushed through legislation in regard to abortion limitations, but as was predicted from the start, all of the legislation was met with opposition, and legal proceedings have kept these new laws from going into effect.  This outcome was anticipated by the players in our industry, and though some publicized statements brought concerns of continued work to our area, all signs continue to point to Georgia and Alabama maintaining the high level of production to which we have become accustomed. 

New Media Markets

In 2018, the IATSE re-negotiated three-year terms on the major motion picture contracts.  The stability ensured by these re-negotiations saw an increase of production in 2019, especially in the new media markets, as the new contracts provided the first real set of defined terms and conditions for this type of production.  This year, fifteen of our productions were made for release on streaming platforms, and there are already six projects scheduled for 2020 that will be produced using the New Media contract language.  Negotiations are currently in progress for a specialized contract with Netflix, meaning that we can expect an increase in Netflix-produced material moving into this year. There is already an insatiable demand for new content by these markets; and with the establishment of Disney+, AppleTV, and others, we believe that the demand will bring an even larger increase to the number of productions that are greenlit.  While other jurisdictions are likely to benefit from this increase as well, Georgia’s film tax incentive continues to make our jurisdiction the #1 choice for production in the United States.

Database Integration

Here at Local 479, we worked hard in 2019 to bring to a close some major projects that have been in the works over the last few years.  We completed a rebuild of our internal member database at the end of 2018, and this year that software was integrated into a web application, allowing our members more access than ever to their account information as well as Local 479 news, contracts, production lists, benefit information, and more.  Our Member Dashboard is now a robust online tool available to help members manage their job searches as well as all other aspects of their union membership.  We hope that members take advantage of their Dashboard and keep watch for even more features and improvements as we work to constantly evolve the site to meet the growing needs of our busy membership.

Safety Training Grows

Last year our education department offered more than 275 training opportunities to our members and worked with the IATSE Training Trust to process more applications for the online safety training classes than ever before.  By the end of 2019, 26% of our membership had completed the first module (‘A’) of the training classes offered through Contract Services by the IATSE Training Trust and 21% had completed the second module (‘A2’).  A third module, Harassment Prevention (‘HP1/HP2’), was recently made available, and many of our members have completed that class as well.  More and more employers are requiring that their crew complete these courses, and we are ecstatic that our members are showing the initiative to certify themselves in order to become safer and better trained crew.  As further incentive to complete these courses, Local 479 designed a new “Carhartt-style” jacket and has provided them at no cost to any member that has passed all three modules.  If you have not already crossed these courses off your to-do list, make it your New Year’s Resolution to complete them and receive your own new Local 479 jacket.

2019 Member Events

Due to our members’ hard work, Local 479 was able to provide more events that afforded our membership with enjoyable downtime with family and friends. In July the local paid for 2,000 members to attend an Atlanta United Game; in August 2,000 members enjoyed an afternoon at SunTrust Stadium watching the Braves defeat the Chicago White Sox; and in October more than 4,000 tickets were redeemed by members and their families for exclusive early access to the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park.  We always enjoy offering events that allow our members to spend time with their own families as well as the greater 479 Family.  In December, more than 1,000 people attended the Holiday Party that was held at the Local 479 hall, which featured casino tables, karaoke, dancing, a coffee cart, board games, delicious food and a champagne fountain ice sculpture.

Membership has Benefits

Special events aside, the local continues to find ways to increase the value of membership at Local 479.  Our Quarterly Dues Incentive Program was created as a way to defray the annual cost of membership to the union for our working members, and it continues to be a valuable benefit of membership.  75% of our members qualified to get their 2020 quarterly stamp dues covered by the local, meaning that 75% of our members are working steadily throughout the year.  Local 479 paid a total of $1,104,000 to the IA for these stamps on behalf of our working members for the 2020 calendar year.  2019 was the third year that we were able to offer the Vacation Check benefit, and in March, we wrote vacation checks back to our working members totaling $886,500.  Our Hardship Committee is always here to help members in need and in 2019 the committee approved almost $200,000 in financial assistance to various members undergoing medical treatment or experiencing other difficult circumstances.  The local also covered another year of short-term and long-term disability insurance – a group policy we negotiated to benefit all of our members, which was established in 2016. 

Committees Deliver to Community

Lastly, our member-led committees represented Local 479 better than we could have asked, and through their community activism, raised a combined total of $65,000 for Beloved Atlanta, W-Under Dogs, and The Rainbow House Coalition – 3 Atlanta-based charities that do a lot of good for our city.  We are so proud of our members for their continued desire to give back to the city and state that has provided us all so much.

Looking Back 10 Years

All in all, 2019 was a successful year and a great end to a very busy decade of work in the film industry.  Look how far we’ve come!

2009 to 2019 saw enormous changes within Georgia's Film and Television industry.
  2009 2019
Number of Members 716 5,308
Number of Productions 18 117

In Service and Unity,
Michael Akins
Business Agent