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HomeColumnsUnion Roundup - June 2003

Union Roundup – June 2003


By Mark London Williams
ICG: The watchful eyes of the International Cinematographers Guild – IATSE Local 600 – were among those present at L.A’s city hall (“stormed” was the verb the ICG chose in its report to members) in mid-May, to voice their opposition to a proposal by council member Cindy Miscikowski to “make it more difficult to work in the city,” as the local phrased it. What Miscikowski had in mind was, for better or worse, giving more neighborhood and community groups a say in location filming – including potential veto power over that filming – within city borders. While Miscikowski became convinced, at least temporarily, this might be a “biting the hand that feeds (some)” sort of idea, and tabled her proposal for at least 30 days, the legislative dust-up may be breathing new life into the Lazarus-like EIDC, which is busy shedding its scandal-plagued past.
Acting EIDC President Keith Comrie said his agency will hold public roundtables on the ”community involvement” issue, and further, there are otherwise unspecified “plans” to add neighborhood reps to EIDC’s executive board. Indeed, Miscikowski’s month-long tabling of her legislative foray is pending a report from Comrie to the council’s Education and Neighborhoods Committee, to see how EIDC’s restructuring – and neighborhood input – is coming along.
Whether Local 600 will be in a “storming” mood come the vacation-heavy breezes of June remains to be seen.
EIC: Drop the “D” from EIDC and you have EIC, that global-economy mulling industry group rife with showbiz/media corporations, unions, and various groups, all finding common ground as the Entertainment Industry Coalition for Free Trade. Lately, they’ve been thinking about Chile. No, they’re not sponsoring a special screening of Costa-Gavras’ Missing, but rather, they’ve signed on as supporters of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. The group likes this particular agreement – though not without reservations – because it serves as a useful template for the presumed protections of intellectual property in the global marketplace.
Among the provisions in this FTA are an extension of copyright from life-of-the-author (or more realistically, studio) plus 50 years to plus 70 years, and a bump from 50 years to 70 years on the post-publication protection of sound recordings and audiovisual works. It’s less than the near-century – 95 years – the EIC wanted, but they’re willing to live with it if it means enforcement against piracy. And the Chilean government has stated it will seize and destroy pirated goods and the equipment such goods are made on.
The EIC also likes the fact a current 6% tariff on DVDs, CDs, games, cinema equipment, etc., will all be waived on the day the agreement takes effect. That day will have to wait, however, since President Bush has made it known he has no intention of signing the U.S.-Chile FTA until fall. The White House claims this sudden delay, due to “technical” problems in the agreement, has nothing to do with Chile’s opposition in the U.N. to the recent invasion of Iraq.
AFL-CIO: Speaking of Presidential politics and global trade, the AFL-CIO’s New Hampshire prez, Mark MacKenzie, was among those who heard little-reported remarks by Presidential candidate Howard Dean, who advanced the intriguing notion that if corporations can be exported internationally, unions should have the same privilege. Dean cited the example that if we can house a GM plant in Mexico, perhaps we should send the UAW down there, too. Tying the idea of union exportation into global defense, Dean noted that countries with prosperous middle classes have too much to lose when it comes to harboring – or supporting – terrorists. Such an idea would substantially change the entire mathematics of “job flight” as well.

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