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Hollywood Unions Hit Hard by COVID Relief and Diminishing Dues


IATSEDeadline has posted an exclusive report investigating how the industry unions have been hurt by the Covid-19 pandemic that has shut down production and racked the industry as a whole but especially the unions that have seen a decrease in membership dues, their main source of revenue, as members have lost or failed to find work.

This comes from annual financial reports that were just filed with the Department of Labor that shows entertainment industry across the country losing tens of millions of dollars compared to 2019.

According to the story, some unions saw their dues intake reduced by more than 50%.

A few examples from the story:

The International Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, saw its dues intake decline by more than $5 million in 2020 – falling by 33% to its lowest levels since 2012. Last year, the guild took in nearly $10.4 million in dues, which was down from $15.6 million in 2019.

Dues collected by the Editors Guild last year fell by nearly $3 million, from $8.5 million in 2019 to $5.6 million in 2020 – a decline of 34%.

Other IATSE locals across the country also saw declines:

Grips Local 80: dues plunged more than $2 million, from $4.2 million in 2019 to $2 million last year – a 52% decline.
Prop Local 44: dues fell off by more than $1.2 million, from nearly $5.7 million in 2019 to $4.4 million last year – a 21% decline.
Sound Local 695: dues plunged by more than $1 million, from nearly $2.2 million in 2019 to $1.1 million last year – a 50% drop.
The Art Directors Guild Local 800: dues fell by nearly $850,000, down from $3.3 million in 2019 to nearly $2.5 million last year – a decline of 25%.
Script Supervisors & Production Coordinators Local 871: dues fell by more than $581,000, from almost $2.5 million in 2019 to $1.9 million last year – a decline of over 23%.
The Make-Up & Hair Stylists Guild Local 706: dues fell by more than $550,000, from $1.7 million in 2019 to under $1.2 million last year – down 32%.
Set Painters & Sign Writers Local 729: dues plummeted by nearly $550,000, from $1.1 million in 2019 to nearly $549,000 last year – a decline of nearly 50%.
IATSE Costumers Local 705: dues fell by over $480,000, from $1.4 million in 2019 to $952,982 last year – a 33% drop.
Costume Designers Guild Local 892: dues were down by more than $420,000, from nearly $1.2 million in 2019 to $753,000 in 2020 – a 36% decline.
Amusement Area Employees Local B-192: dues fell more than $350,000 for this 2,600-member local, down from $732,058 in 2019 to $376,583 last year – a drop off of more than 48%.
Studio Teachers Local 884: dues fell by $65,572 for this tiny local of only 144 members, down from $136,640 in 2019 to just $71,068 last year – a drop of 48%.

The story goes onto say that Atlanta, where business was booming with crews staffed by IATSE Local 479, as production took advantage of Georgia’s tax incentives, also saw a huge decrease in dues revenue, although the region was also one of the first to resume production last summer. According to Deadline, membership in the group increased from 198 members in 2020 to over 5,500, although dues fell by 41% to $6.6 million last year after taking in over $11.2 million in 2019.

The Animation Guild, IATSE Local 839 was another group that saw dues increase by more than $630,000 – up from $4.6 million in 2019 to more than $5.2 million last year – an increase of 13.7%, because jobs in animation were the least affected by the pandemic which shut down physical live action film and television production. The guild stated, “most of our members remained employed. However, the dues relief that was offered by the IATSE was paid forward and donated to an MPTF Covid Relief fund.” The guild donated $200,000 to the Motion Picture & Television Fund to support IATSE members in need, and another $10,000 to Labor Community Services to support efforts to bring food to union members.

IATSE’s 3,500-member Stagehands Local 1 in New York City was hit the hardest by the closure of Broadway and major venues like Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. In 2019, Local 1 took in $12.7 million in dues, but last year, dues sank by 53% to just $5.9 million – a year-to-year decline of more than $6.8 million.

Other unions that provided dues relief such as the Cinematographers Guild and the Directors Guild of America also saw millions in lost income by doing so.

You can read the full list of losses reported over at Deadline.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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