Ask the Field Rep: Straight Talk on Box Rentals

Every day, our tireless MPEG Field Reps work hard to get you answers to your workplace questions.

And every quarter, they do it right here at CineMontage. So let’s get to a burning question!


Q. I WORK AS AN ASSISTANT EDITOR IN PICTURE EDITORIAL. THE PRODUCERS EXPECT ME TO BRING IN MY OWN LAPTOP; THEY ALSO HAVE MADE IT CLEAR THEY DON’T PAY BOX RENTALS. ADDITIONALLY, THEY DON’T HOOK THE AVIDS UP TO THE INTERNET. I’VE ALREADY HAD TO REPLACE THE BATTERY ON MY LAPTOP; SHOULDN’T THEY BE PAYING ME TO BRING IT IN?

Yes, they should. The majority of  projects the membership works on are covered by contract language that either requires an employer to provide necessary equipment or adequately compensate employees that provide it themselves. Producers, however, will often try to get away with whatever they can to help make budget.

The first way to solve this problem is to call it in to the Guild. If your employer is requiring you to bring in your personal equipment with no reimbursement, we can often make a call and just fix it.

But don’t be tricked into bringing your own equipment. Let’s say you’re working on a series that will not allow the Avids to be connected to the Internet, but provides one additional computer separately connected to the Internet for you all to share. Soon enough, that one machine is expected to download dailies, upload cuts, and send turnovers all at the same time. How does everything happen at once with only one computer?

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Assistant Editors are (mostly) extremely organized, deadline-oriented individuals that operate as efficiently as possible. The desire to bring in that free laptop and get the job done is a hard one to resist. But you have to resist.

Whether you’ve called the Guild first or not, do NOT bring in your laptop if you’re not being paid a box rental for it.

First, see if the Post Producer/Supervisor can determine the order of events. Does the editor get dailies or does the sound house get the turnover?

Make it clear when an equipment situation could lead to a workflow delay. If a supervisor understands that there’s only one laptop around and that could mean, for example, delayed dailies, it might just so happen that another laptop magically materializes.

Don’t work longer than you are approved to put on your timecard. If you just stood your ground on the whole laptop thing, don’t undermine yourself by handing out free time because you couldn’t start downloading your dailies until four hours into your shift. You get paid for all time you work. Full stop. Take your meal breaks and put in for penalties if they are delayed.

Remember, if your employer doesn’t want to pay for enough equipment to concurrently get work done, it means that they want to pay for work to be done sequentially. If that means overtime, then that’s overtime. They can’t have it both ways at your expense.

Finally, don’t internalize the stress and pressure of everything that needs to be done on one machine. If the studio decides we only work on one internet-connected computer, then we work in a world with only one internet- connected computer. It’s their problem. Let the studio do the stressing. ■

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Q. I’VE BEEN WORKING ON A TALK SHOW FOR MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS NOW, AND I HEARD THAT GIVEN MY LENGTH OF SERVICE, IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO START GETTING ADDITIONAL VACATION PAY. HOW DO I KNOW IF THAT APPLIES TO ME?

Yep, you just might be eligible.

Employees who have worked for eight consecutive “eligible” calendar years for an employer can qualify for increased vacation pay. That includes project hires as well as regularly employed studio/signatory company hires.

Depending on how vacation is paid, that could mean a jump from two to three weeks paid time off, or a percentage jump, from a 4% weekly vacation payout to a 6.2762% weekly vacation payout. Definitely enough time off that it’s worth investigating.

Now, there are some catches. This applies to Majors, Independent and Videotape Agreements. It’s not applicable in the New York/Eastern region.

And members must have worked for an employer a minimum of 100 straight-time days in each calendar year, and a minimum of 1600 aggregate straight-time days over the eight-plus years.

But again, time is money. So if you think you are due some vacation pay, check with a Guild Field Rep. ■


Got a burning question? Reach out to publications@editorsguild.com Remember, answers are general and cannot possibly cover all situations. Always call a Field Rep to discuss your specifics when needed. The Guild’s main number is (323) 876-4770.


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