by Cathy Repola
Some members have expressed confusion over how they should be paid and what they are contractually entitled to if they work in a city other than where they reside. Others know perfectly well what they should be getting, but agree to look the other way and intentionally give up payment or conditions in order to secure the work they might not have otherwise obtained.
If you go to work to a distant location (a city where you are required to stay overnight and it is not your primary residence), the employment company has to provide various travel conditions to you. Your primary residence is defined by utilizing the same criteria the IRS does. Those include your mailing address for bills and utilities, as well as the address used on your state and federal income tax returns, your driver’s license, car registration, etc.
The specific travel provisions vary in different types of contracts, but all of the union agreements have some requirements pertaining to traveling. They include things like airfare, per diem, housing, idle pay, payment for unworked sixth and seventh days, and additional benefit contributions for those idle days.
Neither companies, members, nor office staff have the authority to abrogate any provision of any union agreement. In other words, you may not enter into any personal arrangement to waive or alter anything you are entitled to under the union agreements — unless it constitutes a “better condition,” which affords you something more than the union agreement does. An individual who agrees to less does not shield the company from a potential grievance; it is still a violation and it will be pursued as such. The companies certainly know better and our members should too.
When members agree to undermine the conditions of a union contract, they are doing harm not only to themselves, but to every other member. Once one of you agrees to something less, others are pressured to do the same. When you are willing to make personal sacrifices, realize that you are also sacrificing all of those who work side-by-side with you, all of those who came before you who fought for the rights afforded by the union agreements, and all of those who will follow behind you.
Neither companies, members, nor office staff have the authority to abrogate any provision of any union agreement.
So, if you are offered employment in a city other than your primary residence, do not agree to be treated as a local hire, because you are not a local hire. Don’t agree to sleep on a friend’s couch so the company doesn’t have to pay you housing. Don’t pay your own way to get to the city where you’ll be working. You are free to accept work anywhere (although in Los Angeles there are Roster requirements), but you must be paid according to the applicable distant location provisions.
Let us be a true union, comprised of members who not only understand that a harm to one is a harm to all, but also who live and breathe that edict and take it with them to every deal they negotiate, as well as to every worksite — and who impart that edict to all of their fellow members with whom they come in contact.
You can access contract summaries by logging onto the Members Only section of the Editors Guild website, www.editorsguild.com. Then go to Wages/Contracts/Holidays link and scroll down to the Contract Summary section. You can read the provisions or download a PDF version. The office also has printed contract summary booklets, which we can mail you. Call the front desk, 323-876-4770 and request a copy.