Kathryn McCawley
March 1, 2022

How to Join IATSE Local 44

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We all know unions support a large segment of those who make television, film, and theater possible. And thanks to the work of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), entertainment craftsmen and technicians have powerful, grassroots-led affiliates that represent the numerous specialties in their field.

Today we look at one of those affiliates---IATSE 44. We’ll answer what is the IATSE Local 44, why you might consider joining, and how to become a member. 

First things first...

What is IATSE 44?

The IATSE Local 44 was chartered in 1939 under their parent organization, IATSE. Serving over 6,000 members in Los Angeles and across the globe, the Local 44 union represents a group of specialized craftspersons. 

The specialized crafts of IATSE Local 44 include:

Local union 44 members can be found in film, television, theater, and commercial productions.You can find all of the craft descriptions here.

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What are the benefits of IATSE?

The benefit of working under any affiliation of the IATSE broadly includes proper working conditions and entitlement to health and welfare benefits.

Safety and fair working conditions are key tenets of the IATSE and IATSE Local 44. With membership, members ensure fair wages and overtime. State and federal conditions are promised, and both procedures and legal counsel are provided for disputes and grievances.

IATSE ensures pensions, annuity, health and welfare, and vacation funds that are distributed through the non-profit National Benefits Funds (NBF). The IATSE established these funds through collective bargaining agreements with entertainment industry employers who continually contribute to them. The NBF then administers these benefits to union members. The NBF is a separate company from that of the IATSE, but it is governed by a board of both IATSE members and contributing industry employers.

Current IATSE NBF benefits include:

  • Health insurance plan with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Retirement funds through Wells Fargo
  • Vision plan through Davis Vision
  • Dental plan through Delta Dental
  • CVS Caremark for IATSE’s prescription plan

For more in-depth information on the IATSE benefits, NBF’s website provides thorough breakdowns of its offerings. You can also directly call NBF at 1-800-456-FUND.

What are the benefits of joining the IATSE Local 44 union?

As a member of a child organization of the IATSE, you are granted all the benefits provided to IATSE members, including fair working conditions and benefits.

Additionally, IATSE Local 44 represents a respected group of craftspersons that are well known and connected within the entertainment industry. It also provides a community of members interested in supporting their fellow union workers.

IATSE Local 44 ensures that its members are easily accessible for those looking to hire, keeping a comprehensive list of members, their specializations, resumes, and contact information.

As a union, they run community initiatives, such as rebuilding retired film workers’ homes. 

Throughout covid, they also have kept updated resources available to members. For members living in Los Angeles, IATSE 44 Los Angeles has a facility on 12021 Riverside Dr, Valley Village, CA 91607 that is open for inquiries and member support.  

How to join IATSE Local 44 as an individual

If you’re not yet part of a union, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. But when joining IATSE Local 44, if you are a craftsperson in their specialties, you can apply to join once you accumulate 30 days of union work registered with the Contract Services Administration Trust fund (CSATF)

What is the CSATF

The Contract Services Administration Trust fund is among the collective bargaining agreements between the IATSE and other entertainment unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The CSATF is among the organizations that carry out the provisions of these agreements. Their main role is maintaining and administering the Industry Experience Roster (IER). Their database collects individuals’ work experience and additional specifications for certain local affiliations that are needed to join the IATSE and its' affiliations. For more information regarding the

When applying for the IATSE Local 44 union, they will look at the union experience logged into their database. It is imperative when you are working on projects – particularly non-union projects that turn to union – to report your days to the CSTAF. Keep your paystubs and call-in to ensure those days are logged, as those days are required for your Local 44 union application.

For more information on the CSTAF, check out their website to get a full picture of their services.

How do I work on a union production if I am not a member?

IATSE Local 44 outlines the two ways in which non-union members can acquire their baseline qualifications.

1. Working as a “Permit” on a turned over call from Local 44

When union productions are looking for last-minute positions on productions, they will make turned over calls that allow non-union persons to work on productions as a permit.

First, an authorized production hiring manager places a call to IATSE Local 44 for a certain position that needs to be filled. IATSE 44 has a Call Board who reaches out to those needed by the production within the specified craft. Productions will often have a list of people, usually union members, who they would like to request. If none of those people are available, the Call Board will then reach out to union members of the needed specialization to fill that position.

Only when the Local union 44 Call Board cannot find any union members to fill that position will they allow the production to hire a non-union member as a permit.

But as you can see from the pecking order of this process, it’s actually pretty hard to get hired as a permit, even if you have some special-in with the production. If someone is looking for a set dresser, they’re going to call up a Local 44 set dresser. IATSE Local 44 ultimately is going to support its members.

With that in mind, some people might take the second route.

 2. Organizing a production from non-union to union

If you work on a production that “flips” to union, you can log those days with the CSTAF to get placed on the Industry Experience Roster. Once you hit 30 days on these sort of productions (hopefully you can get it in one go, but it may take a couple of shoots), you can then apply to the Local 44 union. 

When applying, give them as much information you can. They require that your involvement begins before the unionizing effort. If you also take a role in flipping it to union, that could make you a more attractive Local 44 applicant.

How do I join IATSE Local 44 as a signatory?

Signatories refer to companies that have signed bargaining agreements to work with IATSE 44’s members. Applicants fall under two categories: “Owner” or “Shareholder.” Each group has its own respective qualifications.

1. Owner Companies

Companies where the owner is only involved in the business end and no part of the production process. The owner pays wages and benefits to its employees who must all be union members.

2. Employee Shareholder Companies

These requirements are the same except for the role of the company’s owner, who in this case performs work under the union bargained agreements. They are still required to pay benefit contributions for their own hours. They must almost employ other covered union members that meet a certain number of hours. These qualifications are to be met every year.

Looking to hire a Local 44 member?

The Local 44 union ultimately wants to support its members, which means getting them working on a production as soon as possible. The IATSE Local 44 website provides a comprehensive database of its members that includes their specialty, resume, and contact information.

Contact the Call Board via email at: 

Callboard@Local44.org 

Or by phone at: 

818-769-2500

This number directs you to the IATSE 44 Los Angeles office. Before reaching out, check with your own network to see who they’ve worked with and whose background matches your project. 

When emailing the Call board, we recommend having a list of IATSE Local 44 members that you’re interested in working with.

What is the IATSE basic agreement?

All IATSE affiliates, including Local union 44, are part of the IATSE basic agreement. This agreement changes every three years, the most recent cycle 2018-2021, so as a union member and contributing company, it is an important agreement to keep updated on.

Topics covered in basic agreement:

  • Required company contributions
  • Safety and set requirements
  • Hours, wages, and mandated breaks
  • Holidays and vacation time
  • Healthcare benefits, pension, and retirement funds

This is certainly not a comprehensive list, and again, it changes pretty frequently. Whether you are considering joining a union, are a current member, or a contributing company, it is important to keep up with and know what agreements you are entitled to.

The IATSE basic agreement is an umbrella document that all affiliate unions abide by. That being said, IATSE Local 44 will also have its own specific agreements and qualifications. This can vary from Local union 44 signatory agreements, yearly wages, and even to Local 44 union holidays. Again, be sure to know the outline of the basic agreement as well as additions made by IATSE 44.

Wrapping Up

Unions are the powerhouse of the entertainment industry that keep those working in this field protected. If you’re interested in more insight, check out IATSE Local 44’s website

At Wrapbook, we’re here to help you with the ins-and-outs of the entertainment industry. If you’re looking for more insight into other IATSE unions, check out our article on Local IATSE 479 based in Atlanta. 

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

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About the Author

Kathryn McCawley

Kathryn is a Los Angeles-based artist-designer passionate about everything entertainment. As both an illustrator and writer, she is interested in how the two worlds meet through animation. You can frequently find her either at your local plant shop or zipping around on roller skates.

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