August 18, 2021
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IATSE 478: How to Become a Member

Kathryn McCawley
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Behind the influence of film, television, and entertainment are the amazing craftspersons, crew members, and mechanics who make the magic happen. Many of these hardworking and talented people are represented and proudly brought together through the union work of the IATSE and its local affiliations.

The film industry supports nearly thousands of jobs, and much of that talent is represented through the IATSE.

Today we head to New Orleans, the home of IATSE 478. Not to be confused with the similarly named, but completely different Connecticut based union, this Louisiana film union is an incredibly driven local chapter committed to the support and growth of their membership.

We’ll answer what is the IATSE Local 478, who they serve, why you might want to join, along with the IATSE 478 benefits, and how to become a member of this diverse union.

So, what is IATSE local 478?

IATSE 478 is a Louisiana-based affiliate association of the IATSE, which serves as the main union representing film, television, and entertainment production persons.

IATSE Local 478 was chartered on July 1st, 1986 to service the production mechanics working within Louisiana, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama.

Their role is to provide fair working conditions, wages, and communications with employers. They also proudly support the union community among its diverse group of studio mechanics.

IATSE 478 serves a broad group of studio mechanics, including areas of:

  • Allied Crafts
  • Art Department
  • Construction
  • Crafts Service
  • Electric
  • First Aid
  • Greens
  • Grips
  • Locations
  • Paint/Scenic/Plaster
  • Projections
  • Props
  • Set Dressing
  • Sound
  • Special Effects
  • Wardrobe

IATSE 478’s specialty representation is incredibly broad and diverse.

For a more comprehensive look at the positions within these fields, Local 478 lists them here.

What are the benefits of joining the Local 478 union?

IATSE 478 membership provides localized support, additional benefits, and production negotiations within Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama-based artisans. 

In addition to this local community and representation, it provides the broader support and bargaining power of the internationally recognized and respected IATSE.

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

Benefits of joining the IATSE

Safety and fair working conditions are key tenets of the IATSE. 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.

Benefits of joining the IATSE Local 478 union

IATSE 478 provides an incredibly robust number of programs and benefits specific to their own initiatives. They particularly focus on healthcare support.

IATSE 478 benefits and resources include:

These programs include:

  • OSHA Industry Health Training
  • MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platforms) training for grips, electrics, special effects, riggers, and more
  • Cable Termination Training
  • Steward Training
  • Computer Essentials Training
  • CPR/First Aid/AED Training
  • Welding and soldering courses
  • Costume specialization courses
  • And more

Learn more about their courses here.

They also offer additional online training resources, including subscriptions to LinkedIn Learning.

Classes, in-person member support, and monthly meetings occur at their New Orleans based office.

They can be reached at this address and number:

511 N. Hennessey St.

New Orleans, LA 70119

Phone: 504.486.2192

You can also get updates on meetings and community events on the IATSE 478 Instagram page.

How to join IATSE 478

Now for the fun part---how to actually become a member of the 478!

Local 478 is dedicated to expanding their membership and supporting their union members and community. And they make their application process fairly straightforward.

IATSE 478’s application process:

1. Meeting union eligibility requirements

2. Filling out application packet

3. Paying initiation fee

4. Reviewed by IATSE 478 Membership Committee

Other qualifications?

Before applying to IATSE 478, be sure that you meet these requirements.

  • Must be resident within IATSE 478 jurisdiction of Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama. Must be able to show proof of at least 18 months of residence within their jurisdiction.
  • Specialize in one of Local 478 qualifying crafts.
  • Able to prove 45 days of work in specialized craft in the past 24 months. Attach proof of days worked through paystubs with craft clearly noted on the form.

If you’re looking to join a union within the Louisiana area but don’t quite fall into the Local 478 union’s areas of focus, worry not! With its robust production force, Louisiana has over 12 unions representing its production workers.

Application package

To start the process of joining Local 478, download their application packet and follow these steps.

Step 1:

Complete the Local IATSE 478 application in full, including lists of productions with relevant experience.

Step 2:

Read and keep the union constitution and By-Laws. There is no need to submit this section with your application, so be sure to keep this page for your records.

Step 3:

Include 3 signed letters of reference in the application. Letters of reference should be from prior employers, superiors, or work peers. On the Official Local 478 Directory Questionnaire sheet under “Production Experience.” Note these references to include the timeline of relevant collaboration/employment, the craft involved, and name of production.

These applications can be sent in via email at membersassist@iatse478.org, fax (504) 483-9961, or mail.

Step 4:

Provide two primary documents for proof of residence in the jurisdiction for at least 18 months.

Options include:

  • Vehicle registration
  • Driver’s license
  • Voter registration
  • W-2 forms

Step 5:

Include a one page resume with skills, qualifications, and relevant training and experience.

Step 6:

Include additional support documents in your application. Provide a copy of your social security card, digital photograph of yourself, and the OSHA 10 / Safety Pass. If you don’t have your OSHA pass yet, Local 478 offers free classes for qualification once you become a member.

Step 7:

Pay the application fee. For non-union members applying to join, the fee is $550. For those transferring to local 478 from another union, the application fee is $450. The first $100 of the application fee is for processing and will be non-refundable. The remaining $450 – or $350 if you are transferring – will be applied to your initiation fee.

Step 8:

The final step will be sending in your application packet.

Please note, all parts of the packet MUST be complete upon submission, including the letters of reference and application fee, in order to be eligible to be considered by the voting committee.

Upon its completion, send your application to this address:

IATSE Local 478

432 N Anthony Street

Suite No. 305

New Orleans, LA 70119

What about transfer applications?

For those transferring from another union, you will call your current Local and ask to send over a transfer card. Until you transfer, you will continue to remit your dues to your current union.

Swearing in

Upon submitting your application, prospective applicants must be approved by the majority members present at the meeting and by the broader IATSE.

Responsibilities upon membership

Upon the acceptance of your application and payment of your first quarterly dues, you will officially be a member.

Upon joining Local 478, you will have access to the robust IATSE 478 benefits, be a lifelong member of the union, and have a strong community of fellow craftspersons.

As for financial responsibilities, you will contribute Local 478 rates to support the union. These contributions will include quarterly dues – currently $68 – and a 2.5% Work Assessment, which will usually be automatically deducted from your payroll. Keep in mind that Local 478 rates will change periodically.

Local 478 will provide a union card that you must carry on all productions you work. This will be used as proof of IATSE membership but also account for dues payments.

For quarterly dues, you must either mail in or submit your dues in person with your membership card to provide proof of payment. If preferred, you may pay your full dues at the beginning of the fiscal year and obtain all four stamps for that year.

Wrapping up

Unions are a proud stronghold of the entertainment industry. The Local 478 union is particularly dedicated to supporting its community and further building the strength of productions and their workers in Louisiana.

For more information on this proud Louisiana Film Union, check out their website for more of their offerings. Stay up-to-date with their upcoming meetings and class offerings.

For those tied to social media, check out IATSE 478’s Instagram for some hot takes and production memes.

For more on IATSE’s affiliates, check out our posts on Local 44 and 479.

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.

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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