May 4, 2021

IATSE 479: How to Become a Member

Phillip Paquette
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Fortunately for folks who work behind the scenes, unions are still going strong. Their unwavering on-the-ground presence across North America is thanks, in part, to organizations like the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). In this guide, we’re heading to Georgia and Alabama, covering IATSE Local 479. We’ll answer what is IATSE 479 and uncover all you need to know to become a member.

What is IATSE 479?

IATSE 479 is the Georgia and Alabama chapter (minus Savannah, GA and Mobile, AL) for the international membership organization, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, that advocates fair wages and working conditions for behind the scenes crew working in the entertainment industry. 

Here's a quick breakdown on the history of the Local 479 film union shared by their team:

IATSE Local 479 Studio Mechanics members work in the motion picture and television industry.

IATSE represents other crafts as well, including live theater, broadcasting, trade shows, and concerts, however those craft jurisdictions belong to different locals than 479 in the Atlanta area - primarily Local 927 and Local 834.

What are the Local 479 benefits?

One of the most tangible benefits of working under an IATSE contract is the healthcare and retirement benefits, paid for by the employer. The collective bargaining agreement between the employer and the union represents all crew working in crafts covered by the IATSE, and ensures they receive these important benefits, as well as enforcing wage minimums and other terms and conditions for employment.

Local 479 offers additional benefits directly to their members. 

IATSE 479 benefits include short-term and long-term disability, and basic life insurance coverage through MetLife (at no additional cost to the member), financial give-backs like vacation checks, and other members-only event opportunities.

In order to administer the funds on the union’s behalf, IATSE uses the company, National Benefit Funds (NBF), a non-profit organization. While National Benefits Funds is a separate company, a board of trustees including the IATSE and contributing employers, govern it. NBF’s website is a solid resource for more in-depth concerns regarding the benefits IATSE offers. 

As of today, the NBF:

  • Administers IATSE’s health insurance plan through Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Administers IATSE’s retirement funds through Wells Fargo
  • Administers IATSE’s vision plan through Davis Vision
  • Administers IATSE’s dental plan through Delta Dental
  • And uses CVS Caremark for IATSE’s prescription plan

For your specific questions regarding these benefits, you can directly call NBF at 1-800-456-FUND.

Other Local 479 benefits include training workshops, like this grip and electric training class pre-pandemic. 

The union was providing virtual resources for a time, but we recommend contacting the office to determine if training is back up and running in-person. 

They also offer members fitness center access, as well as access to their media center that includes computer workstations and a laser printer.

So, how do you become a member and enjoy all of the Local 479 benefits?

IATSE 479: How to Join 

Anyone residing within their jurisdiction is welcome to join, however there is an application process to complete before you can become a member of the local. 

1. Fill out the IATSE 479 application

First things first, download the new applicant package and follow along below. 

IATSE 479’s new application pdf contains a handy-dandy checklist showing all the items you’ll need to provide to get approved to join IATSE 479. 

Step 1

Complete the Local Union 479 application for membership and internal pledge form in its entirety.

Step 2

Complete the membership information form that appears on page 6 of the new applicant package. Use the list of Job Classes and Departments on page 7. Only select only two positions. Have your sponsor fill in necessary information and sign.

Step 3

Carefully review and sign the Acknowledgement of Member Rights and Responsibilities page. If you have any questions about what you’re signing, reach out to any of the IATSE staff members listed on page 5.

Step 4

Collect a total of four references and complete all four corresponding forms on pages 9-12 of the applicant package. *Two references must come from active Local Union 479 members, and the additional two must vouch for your work ethic. Tip: a current department head is recommended.

Step 5

Fill out the member obligation form on page 13 to pledge that you will abide by the Constitution and By-Laws of IATSE 479, Moving Pictures Technicians, Artists, and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories, and Canada, and mandates of the AFL-CIO.

Step 6

Complete the payroll deduction consent form.

Step 7

Complete the Authorization of Representation form. This authorizes consent for the union to represent you during collective bargaining.

Step 8

Attach a copy of all certifications (i.e. paramedic, driver’s license, etc.) Be sure to fill certification information on page 6 as well. 

Step 9

Attach your current resume. Page 6 also requires you to input some resume information there as well. *Your attached resume must indicate 180 days of film experience if you join IATSE 479 as a journeyman. You can of course join with less than 180 days of experience with a status of non-journeyman. 

Step 10

Provide proof of residency. A valid copy of one of the items listed below must be provided:

  • A valid Alabama or Georgia Drivers License with an issue date of 18 months or longer or;
  • A valid State of Alabama or Georgia ID, accompanied by a motor vehicle report indicating 18 months of residency or;
  • A valid Alabama or Georgia Drivers License accompanied by one of the following items where this second item shows 18 months of residency - federal tax return (with your name and the same state as your license), vehicle registration, voter registration, or motor vehicle report. 

While some Local Union 479 members report being able to have this requirement waived by writing a letter to the IATSE 479 executive team, it’s best to include it if you can. 

Step 11

Pay all fees and IATSE 479 dues with application. This payment comes in three parts. Applications without all three will be considered incomplete.

  • Pay the $100 non-refundable application fee. 
  • Pay the $1,400 initiation fee to join IATSE 479.
  • Pre-pay. Pay any quarterly IATSE 479 dues for the current calendar year. *If you apply during the 4th quarter of the year, you’ll also be asked to pay Quarterly Dues for the upcoming year. *Contact the office for specific membership dues before you submit your application.

Accepted forms of payment are: VISA, MASTERCARD, DISCOVER, and AMEX, checks or money orders. Checks and money orders should be made payable to “IATSE Local 479.” Checks will be deposited immediately.

If you’re transferring to Local 479 union from another IATSE chapter, you’ll need to complete the IATSE 479 transfer application package

For any questions, the 479 union welcomes you to call the office with any questions-- 404-361-5676, or email Member Services.

2. Send in your IATSE 479 application

Since the Local 479 application asks for sensitive information, they do not accept emailed applications.

Where to send it

You can either mail it in or drop it off at the IATSE 479 office located here:

IATSE Local 479

4220 International Parkway

Atlanta, GA. 30354

Though if you are dropping it off, you will need to call the office upon arrival as they are no longer accepting walk-ins with Covid-19. 

Upon arrival, call 404-361-5676.

When to send it

Applications are only accepted Monday through Thursday until 4pm EST.

After Submitting the Local 479 Application

So, the hardest part is over. What’s next?

Mandatory trainings

Local 479’s Education Department will likely contact you within three or so days after submitting your application. They will help you register for an online safety course as well as a New Member Orientation meeting that will go over IATSE 479’s benefits and insurance options, and will include important info about networking and finding work in the industry. You can see a clip below, though the local 479 union may be doing these virtually, now. Contact the local office. 

You’ll have six months to wrap up these requirements, or you’ll have to resubmit your application. Once you’ve attended both classes, you will be put on the New Member Ballot for a vote. 

Getting voted in 

Meetings take place in the even-numbered months--- February, April, June, August, October and December. As long as your application is at least 15 days before the scheduled meeting for any of these months, your application will be voted on. You will be informed of their decision within about five days of their vote. If you are denied, you will be refunded, with the exception of the $100 non-refundable deposit. 

Once you’re a member of the Local 479

Once accepted, members are obligated to work dues or 3% of gross earnings from each union job within the Local 479’s jurisdiction. These dues fund the costs of administering the collective bargaining agreements with the producers.

These dues can be deducted from your weekly paycheck while working on a production. Remember that payroll deduction consent form you signed earlier? If this isn’t deducted automatically, you are still responsible for making sure your dues are paid to the union. 

Wrapping Up

If you end up joining, be sure to get onto the Local 479 availability list. That way, production teams know you’re part of the IATSE 479 union and available to hire. Then check out their education calendar for training opportunities and member services to access all your Local 479 benefits.  

If you’re working in the Local 479 union in Atlanta and are planning your own production, be sure to check out our Atlanta film permit guide.

Last Updated 
May 4, 2021


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
Phillip Paquette

Phillip Paquette is an Austin, TX-based storyteller and content strategist that's worked both on behalf of agencies and directly with brands. Catch his business musings on Medium.

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