479 NEWS

Member Spotlight: Glenn Peison and Kazz Walding Helping Fellow Members Navigate GDOL Unemployment Claims Process

Several weeks ago Local 479 member Glenn Peison set up a Facebook group called Atlanta Art Department: Covid-19.  His original intention for the group was to serve as a resource for people to share and discuss the latest health and safety information pertaining to the emerging pandemic. 

Glenn has been extremely active and notably engaged in the business of the local since joining in 2012, from serving as Treasurer of our Young Worker’s Committee to serving on the Board of Trustees.

As members began sharing specific problems encountered when attempting to file for unemployment, Glenn narrowed the group’s focus to make it a resource for members seeking financial assistance, whether it was for unemployment benefits, stimulus payments, or other types of financial resources.

IATSE District 7 Communications Director, Kazz Walding, who holds dual membership in Local 927 and Local 479, had been performing a similar task and so she and Glenn decided to combine their efforts.  

Together, they began exploring the complexities of Georgia’s Department of Labor (GDOL) claims system, and along the way began developing clear explanations and procedures that have helped many of their fellow members find resolution to their unemployment claims.

Kazz Walding (left) and Glenn Peison (right)

Through a combination of discussions with Business Agent Mike Akins, communications directly to the GDOL for clarification of their processing procedures, and eventually establishing a direct relationship with Commissioner Butler himself, Glenn and Kazz have made an enormous difference in the lives of individual members seeking to resolve issues related to their own unique circumstances.

Developing a System

While issues with employer-filings made by Entertainment Partners figured high among the list of problems experienced by many of Local 479’s members, there were other common issues at play as well, like previous claims opened earlier in the year, people filing multiple claims, GDOL computer systems overloaded by the sheer volume of calls, and as always there were occasional clerical errors.

“In a lot of these cases people just needed to sit tight, and things would start moving on their own,” explains Glenn, who has made it a point to remind people that every case is different.

But many members still needed additional assistance.

They divided their duties so that Kazz could process cases for members whose issues involved employer-filings by Entertainment Partners, while Glenn investigated unique situations. As they learned new information they shared it in posts and in video updates.

Glenn tracked each case, employing the same system he had used when organizing the 2019 Charity Kickball Tournament for the Young Workers Committee, and celebrated every time he was able to turn a flag on his list green – which meant one more case they had resolved.

After several weeks of working through this process Kazz has developed perspective on the scope of the financial emergency created by this pandemic:

“Our film, live stage, and trade show markets have been booming, and our members were accustomed to being able to find work when they needed it. At no time in the past have our locals had every member go into unemployment simultaneously.  This happened on an unprecedented scale, something that no one has had to deal with in our generation.  The GDOL computer systems were entirely unprepared for the volume of requests. Nobody was prepared for this.”

Kazz Walding, IATSE District 7 Communications Director

Mike Akins is grateful for the work that Glenn and Kazz are doing, saying: “While I spent long days in meetings with lawyers, payroll companies, and representatives from the state, working to resolve policy issues from the top down, these two members worked tirelessly and selflessly to assist their fellow members in navigating Georgia’s unemployment system. It is a process that has been extremely frustrating for us all and I am proud to see our members stepping forward to offer their assistance. I appreciate that I can reach out to them to help resolve individual members’ cases more quickly.  As the situation changes and evolves day-to-day, so does the local’s response, and it has been very helpful to have Glenn and Kazz out there working directly with our members.”

Success Stories

Georgia’s Department of Labor (GDOL) Commissioner Mark Butler has been working long hours and has been extremely responsive to our local, from top level discussions with Mike down to individual case discussions with Glenn and Kazz, learning the unique aspects of our industry’s employment and how it affects UI claim filings for our members.  

Additionally, Commissioner Butler has assigned GDOL case workers to work with Glenn and Kazz in walking individual cases through the system so that our members could begin receiving their unemployment checks. Glenn relates that case workers for the state have been diligent, many of them working longer hours just to help resolve our members’ cases.

There are many success stories to be found on the wall of their Facebook group.

There is no wrong way to get involved in your community, or to provide assistance during this unprecedented time.  The decision made by Glenn and Kazz to get involved, first via social media and then through direct communications with their IA brothers and sisters provided not only financial relief to those they have helped, but also emotional relief, since we all feel the stress associated with tight finances.  We appreciate their enthusiasm, patience, and perseverance.

If You Still Need Help

If you are experiencing issues with your GDOL UI claim and have been unable to get resolution yourself, visit the Facebook group and read through the various conversation topics listed below and listen to the podcast (more about that below). If you have read every topic in the group and have listened to the podcast and are still unable to find the answers for your specific situation, post a question to the Facebook page and Glenn or Kazz will look into your personal claim situation.  Every case is urgent and your situation no less important than anyone else, but please remember that Glenn and Kazz are volunteering their expertise and their time – your patience is appreciated.

Common Issues

The most common issues our members have encountered are organized by topic in their Facebook group, which may be accessed via the following links:

Listen to the Podcast

Most of what Glenn and Kazz have learned was covered in the April 29th edition of Glenn’s podcast “Five Takes on the Five Stripes” (link) which runs approximately 1 hour and 23 minutes.

The members of IATSE Local 479 are immensely proud of members like Glenn and Kazz – for demonstrating initiative, kindness, and solidarity with their fellow members. Our members can’t wait to get back to work to bring you new movies and new seasons of your favorite shows. We are in this together.

During this time of difficulty, we would like to bring you stories about your fellow members.  If you know of a Local 479 member that is doing good work in their community, please reach out to Drew Duncan, Communications Director, via email to share the story.