Health & Pension
- In most cases, beginning with the first hour you work on the set, the Employer is making contributions on your behalf toward Health & Pension as you accumulate the required hours to qualify for health coverage. (There are exceptions, so contact us if you’re not certain whether a particular job is making these contributions.)
- You become eligible for first-time health coverage once you accumulate contributions for 600 worked hours but coverage won’t start right away. Soon after reaching 600 you’ll get a packet in the mail from MPI (Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plan) telling you that you’re qualified and indicating exactly when the coverage will begin– which could take another 2 to 5 months, depending on where you are in the calendar year.
- Going forward, it takes 400 worked hours every 6 months to hold onto that insurance coverage, which means that on average, you need to work at least 6 days per month.
- About 4 to 6 weeks after you’ve worked your first days in which contributions where made on your behalf, you’ll be able to login to the MPI website at www.mpiphp.org. This is a really good way for you to follow your progress towards health care qualification and to make sure that your work hours are being properly applied to you. If you have any trouble registering, contact MPI at www.mpiphp.org/home/contactus.
- Your pension is a long way off but still, for every hour that you work (on a show that is making contributions for you), a little bit of money is being added to 2 different retirements plans. One will eventually result in a monthly retirement pension payment to you. The other is called IAP (Individual Account Plan) and will eventually be transferred to you as a lump sum IRA. These are both funded entirely by your employers and will grow slowly over time.
Banking & Finances
- If you need help establishing a bank account, we have some suggestions. A “credit union” is a type of financial institution that is similar to a commercial bank except that it’s a member-owned financial cooperative, controlled by its members and operated on a not-for-profit basis. First Entertainment Credit Union is one that many of our members belong to and that specializes in serving the entertainment industry. That means that when it comes to applying for loans, they’re already familiar with the unique issues of people who work freelance… and that can make the approval process a little easier. In addition to the usual banking services, they have resources to help you with financial literacy, and they can provide help with cleaning up unflattering debt history and improve your credit record. Their website is at www.firstent.org. If you go there to open an account, we recommend that you start by contacting Kenny Valoria, Relationship Manager, at email@example.com 323.845.4404. He knows us at Local 695 and if you let Kenny know that you’re a 695 Trainee, he’ll walk you through the process of getting started with the bank and will try to offer help if you hit any obstacles.
- Freelance workers in the Film & TV industry quickly learn that even though the money is usually good, a weekly paycheck is not something you can always count on, and periods of unemployment are inevitable. First and foremost, we recommend that you get used to that and make good use of your time off by staying healthy, paying attention to the people around you, and exploring your personal interests as you wait for the next job to come along. But secondly, you should be very aware of your inconsistent cash flow and we hope you do the hard work it takes to maintain good financial health. Do some Google-ing on financial literacy, about how to spend less, why it’s so important to always pay down your credit cards, and find out about creating a ROTH IRA, investing in stocks and mutual funds, and more. Do it right and there will be rewards for you.
The Roster & Safety Training
- To work in the industry doing Sound or Video on production, you have to be in Local 695 but you also need to be listed on the Industry Experience Roster… also known as the IER… or just “the Roster”. As a Trainee, however, you are a Y-16A… and Y-16A’s go on a different list called the “Non-Roster Safety List,” which isn’t quite the Roster but it’s enough to give you access to the required Safety Training. (More on that below.)
- But it gets more complicated. Local 695 doesn’t maintain these 2 lists. They are administered by an organization called the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund… commonly called Contract Services or CSATF, at www.csatf.org. So to get on the Non-Roster Safety List, you need to reach out to CSATF after you’ve completed 30 days working as a Y-16A. Start by contacting Malinda at 695 firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll help you get an application from CSATF to be placed on the Non-Roster Safety List. You’ll end up needing to provide them with paperwork proving that you’ve done those 30 days of work, which will all be explained to you when you’re ready to do it.
- NOTE: Dealing with Contract Services can be frustrating at times so if you run into any difficulties there, be sure to reach out to 695 so we can help you out.
- Once you’re on the Non-Roster Safety List, you can take the Safety classes.
- All of the classes are available online at the CSATF website at www.csatf.org. Most of them take about 1 hour and they’ll pay you $20 for each.
- Here are the classes you’ll take:
- General Safety A
- Environmental Safety A2
- COVID-19 Prevention Training
- Harassment Prevention
- Scaffold Use
- Noise exposure
- When you begin Local 695’s Trainee program, you’re allowed to work as a Y-16A while still not yet being an official member of Local 695.
- Once you reach 30 worked days, however, we ask you to contact the 695 to talk about actually joining the Local.
- To learn more about the application process, start by reaching out to Casey at email@example.com.
- The application process goes like this… You’ll submit a $150 application fee and fill out some paperwork. That gets submitted to our parent organization… the IATSE in New York (we call it “the International”)… and once we get the approved form back from them in about 4 weeks, we call you to let you know you’ve been approved. Next, we “finalize” your application with an in-person or Zoom meeting where we “swear you in.” No secret handshake… just some simple formalities along with information and paperwork we give you about your new membership. Normally, you would also be asked to pay the New Member Initiation fee, which for Y-16A is $1,000, but we have currently waived all initiation fees for Trainees and so your initiation fee will be $0.00. Once finalized, you will begin to pay membership dues which for Y-16A is about $170 every 3 months.
- At this point you will be an official Local 695 member in the Y-16A classification. Things you’ll have access to at that time include:
- Full support from the office (which you already have now)
- Full access to the 695 website
- You can list yourself on the Local’s Available For Work list
- You can list yourself in the Local’s online Membership Directory
- You can attend quarterly Membership Meetings, which are a good place to find out what’s going on and to do some networking
- You’ll get the 695 quarterly magazine
- You’ll have access to occasional free movie screenings
- and more…
- When we all think you’re ready to take on the full responsibilities of a Utility Sound Technician or a Video assistant, you can move up to the higher classification. You’ll pay a $10 reclassification fee plus the full initiation fee for the new classification, which is several thousand dollars (which we can help you do over time,) and the dues go up a little, too, but your hourly rate of pay goes up quite a lot at that point so if you’re working, you’ll come out way ahead.
- When you eventually upgrade to a Local 695 classification that is above the Y-16A, you’re finally eligible to be moved from the temporary Non-Roster Safety List to the more permanent Industry Experience Roster. You’ll submit that request to CSATF for processing after you’ve worked 30 days in the newer classification.