With large-scale domestic manufacturing off-shored and de-unionized, Hollywood film and television production may now be the most heavily unionized private-sector industry in the American economy. I had no idea when I started in the labor movement in the 1980s that I would get my foot in the (back) door of “the business” by working with some of the entertainment industry unions and guilds. Today’s “above the line” unions include the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild and the newly-merged SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists); “below the line” unions encompass the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees – also called the “IA”), the Teamsters and others.
Though I barely knew which end of the camera to look through, I was first hired-on for some interesting projects by IA Local 600 – the Cinematographers Guild. When three regional camera locals were consolidated in the mid-1990s, I wrote and edited mail-outs to members about the merger and,