IDA recognizes employee unions, sets the stage for negotiating the contract – deadline

The International Documentary Association has officially recognized voluntary recognition of a union made up of rank-and-file employees, eliminating the bone of contention between employees and management.

The IDA’s board has for weeks signaled support for the unionization effort by employees calling themselves Documentary Workers United, but until this week it has signed an official document recognizing DWU as the official bargaining representative for the Communications Workers of America Local 9003. Staff below the senior director.

IDA Executive Director Rick Perez said in a statement: “A team of IDA staff has successfully formed a union – which has been recognized at a historic pace.” “IDA believes this is a positive step that will help create a new direction for the organization and its staff.”

The DWU has issued a separate press release, calling the union’s recognition a “victory.”

“This is a historic day for IDA staff who have worked tirelessly to get a union in our organization,” said Hansen Barsik, a member of DWU’s organizing committee. “We are excited to work to meet the goals set out in our mission statement and to fight for an agreement that benefits employees.”

Documentary Workers United logo

Documentary Workers United logo

Employees, expressing dissatisfaction with what they call management delay tactics, informed the National Labor Relations Board last month of their intention to vote on their unification. The signing of the voluntary recognition letter eliminates the need for that vote, and the next step for management and the DWU will be to start negotiating the agreement.

“The IDA is committed to working with the Union on the next steps,” Perez said in a statement. Our growth meets a shared vision for a more equitable and inclusive documentary community and the organization’s essential obligations for the field. “

The DWU has identified potential issues for negotiation as part of the agreement negotiations.

“Some important items on the agenda include workplace protection for IDA staff,” the DWU said, “approving the existing staff handbook and providing a voice for staff recruitment.”

Union Drive comes at a time of conflict for the 40-year-old IDA, an organization that provides grants to non-fiction filmmakers and lawyers for the independent documentary community. In a moderate post last month, the newly elected executive committee of the IDA board described IDA as “jumping into the existential crisis.” Over the past year, we have experienced internal conflicts and multiple changes at the staff, executive and board levels, sadly, with several resignations. “

Microphone with IDA mic flag

Nearly half of employees have left the company since December 2021, according to a survey by employees, some citing dissatisfaction with the leadership of executive director Rick Perez, who took over the reins of the company last May. At the top of the IDA, Perez became the group’s first BIPOC and publicly gay leader.

Four senior workers resigned in early January after filing a complaint with the board against Perez, whom they objected to as “workplace behavior.” The complaint also criticized the board’s actions, which the four staffers said were contrary to the IDA’s wider diversity, equity and inclusion values ​​in the documentary field. In late January, the IDA Board issued a statement stating that an independent investigator appointed to investigate the allegations had found nothing to substantiate the allegations.

On Saturday, a team of documentary filmmakers and industry representatives sent a letter to the IDA board expressing concern over Perez’s humiliation. The letter said, “When there is a change of power, change can take the form of interpersonal conflict. In the context of racial discrimination and criminalization of BIPOC men, it is worrying that Rick Perez is clearly found guilty until proven innocent, even after an independent investigation has cleared him of any wrongdoing. Many who have known Rick Perez personally for years, either as friends, colleagues or filmmakers … have found him to be a thoughtful, generous and just leader with an impeccable character. The IDA Board appointed him after a thorough search for his values ​​of fairness, inclusion and excellence, and adopted his vision for the future of the IDA. “

The letter recently praised IDA for electing a full-fledged BIPOC executive committee and welcomed the efforts to unify the employees.

“This debate suggests that the processes at IDA need to be transformed into an organization that has been in operation for forty years. We are not confidential about the internal workings of the IDA but it seems to have made a clear mistake, “the letter said.” We usually stand with the staff and we unequivocally support the IDA union. We hope that these steps will help IDA move in a positive direction and that Rick Perez and IDA staff will work together to strengthen the organization. “

Among the more than 50 signatories to the letter were filmmakers Iles Fernandez, Rodrigo Reyes, Don Valladez and Erin Plus-Campomore, producer Betsy Sai, producer and former IDA worker Claire Aguilar and Oscar-nominated director of Creep Camp Jim Lebt.

LeBrecht was among a select number of field-level leaders who attended a virtual meeting convened by the IDA last month to discuss plans to move forward amid staff unrest. In Saturday’s letter, the signatories sought a detailed discussion of where the IDA was going.

“We hope the IDA will become stronger than ever. We understand that despite having social media and press articles, we still have some part of this larger story, “the letter said. “Therefore, in addition to the small forums already scheduled for IDA, we are requesting a town hall open to all IDA members and interested parties to allow in-depth and transparent discussions about the present and future of IDA.”

Documentary Workers United IDA consists of about 11 employees, including Bedatri D., a member of the DWU organizing committee. Chowdhury and Eddie Hustleby. They welcomed the formal recognition of their union by IDA.

IDA logo


“It is not lost on us that this victory comes at a crucial time in the labor movement across the country,” Chowdhury noted. “We are expressing solidarity with our colleagues at the Anthology Film Workers Union and celebrating the formation of the Amazon Workers Union last week.”

“The support we have received from members of our community, our united colleagues in other media organizations and industry leaders has put us ahead,” said Hustleby. “We look forward to the continued support of the community as we begin this next phase of bidding for a fair deal – as resilient as ever.”

On March 24, IDA announced the appointment of two senior directors and one senior consultant, calling it a “big step.” Keisha Knight arrives as director of the IDA Funds and Enterprise Program, and Abby Sun is appointed director of the Artist Program; Lewis Rosen joined the consultancy role. In a statement following the announcement, Chris Perez (not affiliated with Rick Perez) and Grace Lee, vice-presidents of the newly elected board, noted, “We are excited to welcome our new colleagues as we continue to reflect on how we can best serve the documentary.” . The filmmaking community and more justified IDA.

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