Michigan Unemployment Work Search Requirement

 

By now you’ve gotten multiple emails, probably messages in your MiWAM account, and possibly letters in the actual mail as well. Beginning May 30, 2021, claimants receiving unemployment benefits will be required to actively search for work and report at least one work search activity for each week they claim benefits. In short: No work search, no money.

But what does that mean?

With any luck at all this post will help you understand most of what’s going on. But I’m going to call attention to a very important fact:

If any information you receive directly from Michigan UIA contradicts something you read here, DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU.

I am no expert. I’m just trying to make it a little easier to figure out. If they tell you to do something different, do that instead… And then please let me know so I can correct the information here. No one wants you to be disqualified, no one wants you to have to pay money back, and certainly no one wants you to end up having to pay any fines or end up in a legal battle.

Pre-pandemic, there was always a work search rule but because we work through a union hiring hall we were given a waiver for it. During the COVID shutdown, everyone was given a waiver. But now things are opening back up and businesses are hurting for employees. The reasons for that are another discussion entirely, so I’ll just say those who are paying a decent wage (you know, like what we used to make doing shows) are having little to no trouble finding employees while those who pay considerably less are having a tougher time.

Simply being on the Local 26 referral list and available for work DOES NOT COUNT as a “work search activity.” Likewise, calling the office or sending a text to the call steward to see if there are any shows coming up does not count. Please do not do either of those things, it will only waste everyone’s time and you’ll be no further ahead. There is a way for Local 26 cardholders to avoid having to perform work search activities, but it does still require you to do something. That information is detailed below in the June 8 update.

  • Applying for a job, either in person or online
  • Creating a profile or submitting a resume on a job search website (such as LinkedIn or Indeed)
  • Participating in job search workshops or seminars, again either in person or online

IMPORTANT: You cannot use any single work search activity more than once in any given four-week period! If you apply for a job at Joe’s Market the first week of June, you cannot apply there again until the first week in July if you want the second application to count as a job search.

Also IMPORTANT: The second item on the list can only be used once per claim. If you create a resume on Indeed the first week in June, you cannot create another resume on Indeed EVER AGAIN under your current claim and have it count as a job search.

When you do a work search activity, you MUST document that you’ve done so. UIA can ask you for proof of your work search any time for up to two years, and if you are unable to prove you did the reported activity they can make you pay back any money you received, most likely with interest and/or penalties.

There is a PDF from the state detailing a long list of things that count as legitimate work search activities and how to document them. Please see Work Search Activities List

Short answer: Yes to the first, no to the second. If you apply for a job and are offered the position, you have to have a really good reason for turning it down.

According to Michigan UIA:

You must accept an offer of suitable work based on your skills, abilities, and other factors for your occupation such as the prevailing wage rate in your local labor market. If there are limited jobs in your occupation or geographical area, you may have to expand your work search. For example, you may have to consider looking for a job in a different field or location.

If you do not have good cause for refusing to accept an offer of suitable work, you will be disqualified for benefits and may be required to repay benefits you received.

When filling out an application, consider factors like whether or not the employer is union-friendly, how much per hour you would need to make to take the job, what days/hours you would be available to work there, and the company’s political leaning. Choose your answers accordingly.

If you certify online, you will be able to submit your work search activity for each week along with the other questions you normally answer. Be sure you include:

  • The NAME and DATE of the activity as well as NAME and ADDRESS of whatever entity you contacted OR
  • NAME and DATE of job fair or workshop you attended
  • Regardless of which of those you do, you’ll need to say how the contact was made (in person, online, via email, etc.)

If you certify over the phone using MARVIN, you must REMAIN ON THE LINE after you answer all the normal questions until an agent comes on to take your work search information. What you need to tell them is slightly different:

  • DATE of contact
  • TYPE of activity (submitted application, job fair, workshop, etc.)
  • NAME of whatever entity you contacted
  • ADDRESS or URL of contact
  • HOW contact was made

Short answer: You don’t get paid for that week. Period.

A work search activity must be completed in each week that you are paid benefits. There is also no good cause given for failing to complete a work search activity.  If you do not conduct a work search activity in a particular week, you will not be eligible for payment in that week.  If you miss a work search activity in any week, it cannot be made up.

You’ve been waiting for this one… WHAT ABOUT A WAIVER SO I DON’T HAVE TO DO A WORK SEARCH?

Claimants can apply for a waiver online by logging into their Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) or by calling the UIA Customer Service line at 1-866-500-0017. You must apply and be approved for the waiver before you certify for benefits for the bi-weekly certification period. You will be notified at the time of the request whether a waiver of the requirement is granted.

Claimants can begin applying for a work search waiver May 30, 2021.

UPDATE 8 JUNE 2021:

Union members in good standing have a sort-of waiver for doing work search activity. We have changed the “contact” form on this website to make that easier. On the form, choose “Availability” for subject and fill in the required other information. You will receive an email notification in return. KEEP THAT EMAIL to prove to Michigan UIA you did it in case for some reason you are audited. UIA can ask for your documentation for up to two years.

You still need to list it under work search activities for each week when they certify, however. When you certify online, you will see the usual list of questions with some additions. Don’t just go on autopilot and say “no” to everything! Some of the answers should be yes or you won’t be paid for the week.

One of the questions asked is if you performed a work search activity. There will be a drop-down menu. Choose “submitted an application/resume” or the closest thing to that it says (I don’t certify until next week and haven’t seen it so I’m not sure of the exact wording). Then enter the contact information for Local 26 as requested.

If you are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and you are self-employed, you are not required to apply for a waiver. A waiver will be automatically granted.

*Note that “and”. If you are on PUA but employed by someone from whom you receive a W-2, you are not self-employed.

How to complete your work search

The first time you are required to include the details of your work search activity is when you certify for the week ending June 5, 2021. 

The preferred method for reporting work search activities is online using your Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) account.

  • Enter your work search activity in MiWAM at Michigan.gov/uia. Questions about your work search will be included with your regular certification questions. Enter the details of your Work Search Activity for Week 1 and Week 2.
  • Certify with MiWAM any day during your certification week.

OR

  • Certify by phone with MARVIN at 866-638-3993. Listen carefully to the prompts and answer the certification questions. After completing the automated questions, you must stay on the line to be connected with an agent to provide the details of your work search.
  • Do not hang up before you have provided your work search details or your certification will not be complete, and your benefits will not be paid.

What to include when reporting your work search activities:

  • Date of Contact – The date of your work search activity must fall within the week ending date (Sunday through Saturday) for each
  • Activity – Enter the work search activity for the week you are claiming benefits. One is required, but additional can be entered. Allowable work search activities may include submitting applications, contacting employers, checking resources at employment offices, checking job listings at Michigan Works, attending job fairs or employment workshops.
  • Name of Employer/Organization/Search Engine – Write the name, if known, or the online job search site, or employment service or agency that was contacted. If the search was done online and the employer was not specified, enter the name of the search engine, employment service or employment Enter the Michigan Works agency that you used for your work search activity.
  • Employer Address/Online Location – Enter the location where work was sought, physical address or online website address. If the contact was made by telephone or fax, enter the phone number
  • Method of Contact – Enter how contact was made (e.g., Online, email, in person, phone, mail, fax, ).

For most of the pandemic, the UIA has not been enforcing the day/time on which you certify, instead letting you certify any time during the week you are told to do it. I’ve heard a rumour I cannot substantiate at this point that they’re going to start enforcing the day/time again, most particularly for those who certify over the phone through MARVIN. For those folks, what I hear is you’ll have to go back to the old way where your time to certify is determined by the last two digits of your Social Security number. Those two digits automatically assign you a four-hour window each week Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday during which you may certify. If you miss your window, Thursday and Friday are make-up days. I mention this only because the rumour is those requirements are going into effect on June 7, 2021. I would hope UIA will inform everyone beforehand if that is true, but you never know.

Update 30 May 2021
It’s no longer a rumour… according to the email I got today, starting June 7 if you certify by phone you MUST call during your allotted time by the last two digits of your Social Security number, or use the make-up days. Below is the list of numbers and days/times.

The entire list of Employee FAQs for Michigan Unemployment can be found here. If you have further questions, please check there to see if the answer is available.

If you need help understanding something, please reach out to us via email (found on the Contact Us page of this website) and we will do our best to explain. You can also call the office, but it’s not guaranteed someone will be there who can answer your questions. Office hours can also be found on that same page, where any known/planned changes will be listed as well.

Be safe. Stay healthy. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t. Please wear a mask at least as required, if not all the time. WASH YOUR HANDS!

COVID-19 Return to Work FAQ

Safety is always our first priority. When it comes to containing the coronavirus, we have no margin of error. We understand that a single person contracting the virus could shut down a production.

We will inform you of COVID-19 work requirements with every job offer. At minimum these will include:

  • Masks must be worn covering nose and mouth
  • Maintain 6’ distance between others, as able, within work conditions.

The State of Michigan requires a face mask. This means a tightly woven cloth or other multi-layer absorbent material that closely covers an individual’s mouth and nose. Scarves, ski masks, balaclavas, neck gaiters, plastic masks, and chin shields do not provide sufficient protection and are not considered “face masks” for the purpose of the order.

They are not subject to debate. You must wear a mask properly while at work. Employers and situations may require additional safety protocols. When we are informed before the call, they will be listed on the event page on callsteward.com. Employers may require COVID-19 testing, limit movement in a building, take temperatures, and provide health surveys. It is the employers’ responsibility to provide gloves and sanitizing products when necessary. It is your responsibility to use them.

The IATSE Training Trust has created new Safety First! Online Courses free for all IATSE Members and qualified workers. Good news referents! Our ASM/SMG collective bargaining agreement contributes to the Training Trust Fund. If we have sent you to work even one event at DeVos Place, Van Andel Arena, or DeVos Performance Hall, you qualify for everything the TTF has to offer. Go to https://www.iatsetrainingtrust.org/  to register for an account now. If you have questions regarding your application, please reach out to training@iatse26.org.

  • COVID-19: Guidelines for Preventing Exposure (25 minutes)

This course provides workers with information and recommended practices to minimize the spread of COVID-19 upon returning to the workplace.

  • Recommended Sanitation Practices for Make-up and Hair (1 hour)

This course is intended to help Artists and Stylists learn how to implement sanitation best practices into their daily process to ensure the health and safety of themselves and the Performers they work with.

 

Important Ways to Slow the Spread from the CDC

Let us know. We would much rather err on the side of caution. Anyone who is unsure if they are exposed or not may be replaced on calls without penalty.

If you were in close contact, consider yourself exposed

  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a combined total of 15 minutes or more in one day
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a Coronavirus Self Checker to help you.

State of Michigan COVID-19 Testing will find you a location in your area.

Make note, there are many locations that provide no cost testing options.

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

COVID-19 tests are available that can test for current infection or past infection.

  • viral test tells you if you have a current infection. Two types of viral tests can be used: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) and antigen tests.
  • An antibody test (also known as a serology test) might tell you if you had a past infection. Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.

Stay home except to get medical care.

Take care of yourself.

Stay in touch with your doctor.

Monitor your symptoms.

Follow the CDC’s steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick

Please tell us via mail@iatse26.org or a text message to the call steward. Especially before you post it on social media. Rumors spread faster than the speed of light and we need to know the situation so that we can answer both worker’s and employer’s questions.

If you are in isolation and need supplies, we may be able to help with deliveries and errands.

President Loeb issued a directive:

“With regard to members working under IATSE International and/or IATSE local union collective bargaining agreements, members must comply with COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, including mask-wearing; proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE); adherence to hand washing and social distancing; and all other appropriate protective measures aimed at stopping the spread of the disease.

Failing to follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines is conduct unbecoming, amongst other violations, and may subject members to discipline pursuant to Article Sixteen of the IATSE Constitution as well as termination from work by your employer.”

Whether the person is a member, referent, employer, or vendor, the issue will immediately be brought before the Executive Board to determine a course of action. This can include mandatory classes, suspension, fines, or possible removal from the referral list.  Our employers signed contracts promising safe working conditions. We will not hesitate to enforce that agreement.

We fully understand the difference between a thoughtless mistake and willful disobedience. Masks can slip and so can people. Reminders should be met with acceptance not attitude. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern.

Note: The call steward cannot solve all problems but will always have the contact information for the entire Executive Board of the Local and will get someone to respond to you as soon as possible.

Maybe. It has been a long pandemic. Our records are much more reliable than our memories. We can assure you that we have not removed anyone from the referral list for not working their one call a year.

“Article 4 #6 Referents who perform no work as a stage employee for one (1) year or more except as a result of disability or service in the armed forces of the United States shall be dropped from the referral list on which their name appears and shall lose all accrued seniority for job referral purposes.”

Article 4 #6 was originally suspended until May 2021. It has now been suspended for an additional six months. Our hope is that December 2021 will have us back to working regularly.

We completely understand your efforts to avoid the virus. If you do not want to be permanently removed from the referral list but are unable to accept work at this time, email the Local at mail@iatse26.org and request to be put on the R List. When the infection rate is low enough and the vaccination rate is high enough, let us know you are able to take calls again. This is voluntary, but we need it in writing for the records so that no one can accuse us of skipping your name inappropriately.

The Local notifies everyone we know had contact with the person. Phone calls will be made to anyone they may have worked with including crew, employers, and vendors.

Exposed people will be given a list of places providing COVID testing.

Exposed people will be replaced on all calls until they have tested negative or have completed quarantine.

NO.

We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.

Do you want to be the one that unknowingly spreads the virus because you are not showing symptoms? The vaccine will keep you out of the hospital, but you may still get sick, and you can definitely still spread it.

Even if you are fully vaccinated, that does not mean everyone around you is that lucky. In order to keep everyone safe, we have to achieve herd immunity. This should be achieved by protecting people through vaccination, not by exposing them to the pathogen that causes the disease. For measles this meant 95% of the population. For polio this meant 80% of the population. We do not know what percentage of the population must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin herd immunity.

YES.

Our COVID Response Team has volunteers to help people sign up for a vaccine shot. Depending on the area you live in, we may even be able to assist with transportation.

Contact President@iatse26.org and a volunteer will get in touch with you.

CDC Vaccine Finder – Search anywhere in the US for vaccination locations

VaccineHunter.org – free service that will send text alerts for last minute appointment openings.

Some places in Michigan to sign up for appointments:

Michigan Residents who don’t have access to the internet or who need assistance navigating the vaccine scheduling process can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Meijer Vaccine Clinic

RiteAid

Kroger

YES.

560,000+ people have died in the US as of April 2021.

31,000,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the US as of April 2021.

IATSE has released extensive recommendations for returning to work.

Actor’s Equity – Among the union’s requirements is the implementation of COVID-19 safety officers. Productions would have to have one for every 20 people in the company (which includes actors, stage managers, and anyone who comes in contact with them). Officers would ensure compliance with health protocols, overseeing testing, symptom monitoring, cleaning, contact tracing, and more. The guidelines stipulate that actors and stage managers cannot act as safety officers for their production.

 

 

April: A Month of Troublemaking

If you’re not familiar with Labor Notes, now is a good time for it! They’re an amazing resource for union leaders, members, and those curious about how unions work and why they are important. From their website:

Labor Notes is a media and organizing project that has been the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement since 1979.

Through our magazine, website, books, conferences, and workshops, we promote organizing, aggressive strategies to fight concessions, alliances with worker centers, and unions that are run by their members.

During the month of April Labor Notes is offering a series of workshops held via Zoom for the incredibly low price of $20.00! Additionally, they are offering 50% off a year’s subscription to Labor Notes magazine and even further reduced registration for those in need. They aren’t turning anyone away from educating themselves for lack of funds.

Unfortunately I did not get to this early enough to catch the first workshop, but you can get it on the rest of the month by registering now. Below is a list of the workshops they’re offering with a brief description of each.

Webinars and Unlimited-Participation Workshops
(these workshops have no attendance caps):

Building a Caucus and Transforming Your Union (Thursday April 15: 7 PM EDT)
Drawing on the example of CORE in transforming the Chicago Teachers Union, teachers, health care workers, postal workers, and more are building caucuses to push for more fighting unions. How can caucus work build a more democratic, rank-and-file union and grow our power? How do caucuses start? What are some of the pitfalls to be aware of? Panelists: Shira Cohen, Working Educators Caucus, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; Andrew Solar-Greco and Rhiannon Maton, Member Action Coalition, United University Professors, State University of New York (SUNY); Patrick Weisansal II, Communications Workers Local 1168; Ryan Gray and Jamie Partridge, Portland Caucus of Rank-and-File Carriers, National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 82.

Direct Action Organizing for Health Care Workers (Sunday April 18: 8PM EDT)
COVID-19 exposed to the public what health care unions had been saying for years: the system is broken! Staffing shortages, lack of PPE, furloughs, and unclear policies meant that nurses, techs, nursing assistants, and support staff in all departments bore the brunt of the pandemic while health care corporations made record profits. This event will feature different stories of workplace organizing and direct action against the boss to build power for essential health workers.

Past Practice Grievances with Robert Schwartz (Monday April 19: 7 PM EDT)
Past practice is one of the most frequently cited concepts in labor relations. In this workshop, retired union attorney Robert M. Schwartz, author of How to Win Past Practice Grievances, will discuss the subject in a straightforward manner, identifying the five elements of a bonafide past practice and when a practice has, and does not have, contractual status.

Austerity: The Myth and How to Fight It (Date and time TBA)
The Covid-19 pandemic, while unique, has created a familiar crisis in the form of shrinking tax revenues and demands for concessions from workers. In this panel, we’ll hear about how austerity is a political choice—not a material necessity—as well as how some unions are fighting back against austerity-driven concessions. Panelists TBA.

Organizing at Amazon: Lessons Learned and the Work Ahead (Saturday April 24: 4 PM EDT)
Amazon is now the second-largest employer in the U.S., and a presence everywhere in the lives of Americans, reshaping the retail and logistics landscape. This panel will provide an overview of the company’s operations and growth and the threat it poses to members of the Teamsters, postal unions, UFCW, ILWU, and other unions, as well as working conditions generally. We’ll hear from workers on what it’s like to work at Amazon, and about organizing in the company’s warehouses, including a report on the union drive in Bessemer, Alabama. Moderator: Maximillian Alvarez, Editor-in-Chief of The Real News Network and host of Working People podcast. Panelists: Spencer Cox, Amazon researcher, PhD student, University of Minnesota, Lauren Kaori Gurley, senior staff writer at Motherboard, VICE’s tech site, and a representative from Amazonians United NYC.

Labor and Climate Change Solutions (Sunday April 25: 5 PM EDT)
In the past few years, the gravity of the climate crisis has become ever more clear even as policymakers and corporations refuse to act. At the grassroots level, labor has become increasingly active in finding a solution, but much remains to be done. What are local union activists doing to build a more sustainable workplace and world, and how can rising union activism connect with the global struggle to stop catastrophic climate change? Panelists TBA.

National Educators Call: Assessing and Building Power in the Pandemic and Beyond. (Tuesday April 27: 8 PM EDT)
What have we learned? What are our next struggles? Join preK-12 educators from across the country to identify the struggles ahead and discuss how to use lessons learned from the pandemic going forward.

How to Defend Your Co-workers in Disciplinary Meetings (Thursday April 29: 6 PM EDT)
Stewards are the backbone of every union, defending their co-workers when they are needed most. In this workshop we will review how stewards can use their special rights and protections to effectively advocate for their coworkers in investigatory interviews. We will also discuss how to handle supervisors who are trying to put you off or trip you up. Facilitators: Chris Brooks and Stefanie Frey, NewsGuild of New York

Beating Apathy
Are you beating your head against the wall trying to get other workers involved? This workshop is for you. Hear success stories from those who’ve turned their workplaces around and turned apathy into action. Learn practical organizing tools for engaging your co-workers, taking action, and getting results.

Assembling Your Dream Team
Your workplace may feel like an unorganized mess, but the truth is you’re not starting from zero. There’s organization there already—though it might have nothing to do with the union. Learn how to map out the existing networks in your workplace, identify the leaders in those networks, and then knit them together into an organizing committee.

Turning an Issue into a Campaign
Everybody has complaints and frustrations, but an organizer has the power to turn problems into opportunities. Learn how to sort through the issues you hear from co-workers, bring people together, and make a plan to solve them.

Skills and Limited-Participation Workshops
(these workshops have attendance caps):

Secrets of a Successful Organizer Parts 1, 2 and 3 – a series of nuts-and-bolts organizing trainings based on our book, Secrets of a Successful Organizer:

  1. Beating Apathy:
    • Saturday April 3 (12-2 PM EDT)
    • CLOSED – Wednesday April 7 (7-9 PM EDT)
  2. Assembling Your Dream Team:
    • Saturday April 10 (12-2PM EDT)
    • CLOSED – Wednesday April 14 (7-9 PM EDT)
  3. Turning an Issue Into a Campaign:
    • Saturday April 17 (12-2 PM EDT)
    • CLOSED – Wednesday April 21 (7-9 PM EDT)

If you have any interest in any (or all, since they’re all included in the price), you can find details and the registration form here: April Month of Troublemaking

More educational opportunity!

Related, yet a separate thing from a different organization, Labor’s Bookstore is offering 50% off all their previously read books. They are closing down the used books section of their store/website May 1st so they can “focus on even more new and exciting titles”.

From their website:

Labor’s Bookstore has its roots in the former Union Communication Services (UCS), founded by David Prosten. Here at Labor’s Bookstore we are proud to publish many of the titles formerly carried by UCS.  Additionally, we offer a wide variety of previously-read books at very affordable prices.

Labor’s Bookstore aims to provide union leaders and other activists with resources that will better enable them to serve their members and communities.

Check out the selection here to add titles to your personal collection.

One more thing. You know what it is, it’s what I do… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME OR MASK UP even if you’ve been vaccinated. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Women Making History: An IATSE Local 26 Timeline

For Women’s History Month let’s look, frankly not that far, back into the history of IATSE Local 26. Celebrate the women that were responsible for breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations. We are one of the most long-lived with a National Alliance charter signed November 15, 1894. Our International Charter was signed on July 24, 1902, after IATSE welcomed Canadian Locals into the Alliance. For a time, we were known as Local 291, with an International charter signed on July 10, 1913, before going back to our original Local No. 26. Over the years we merged with other Locals, including Local 188 out of Kalamazoo.

Whether you choose our original 1894 National Charter or the International Charter in 1913, we are looking at 86 to 67 years with an entirely male membership. Barely more than 40 years ago, that barrier was shattered by Mary Sides of Local 188 and Karen Kuiper of Local 26.

Carolyn Schneider is known for being the first woman elected to Local 26’s Executive Board when she became Recording Secretary. What many do not realize is that, at that time, this was a non-voting position. Does that lessen her achievement? Absolutely not. She was in the room where decisions were being made. She may not have been able to voice a vote, but she was able to voice a perspective. Sadly, we returned to a completely male Executive Board for several years after Carolyn left office.

It was not until 2001 that our own Beth Snyder was elected Recording Secretary. It was still a non-voting position in the Local. In 2005, Beth was the first woman to represent us at the meeting of the highest legislative and judicial body in the IATSE at the Quadrennial Convention. Shortly thereafter, a Local 26 Constitutional amendment was passed giving the Recording Secretary the vote, so she became the first woman allowed to vote on Executive Board motions.

2006 was the beginning of a new era. Stasia Savage became the first woman to serve as Business Agent for IATSE Local 26.  The BA oversees all members and referents, as well as day-to-day operations of the Local and its office. She represents the Local in all dealings with employers, provides employers with labor through the Local’s Referral program, and maintains a list of all work assigned. She also serves as Delegate to the International Convention and Michigan Alliance, Eighth District, and the AFL-CIO. It is the most influential and powerful position in the Local.

Stasia led the Local to organize Miller Auditorium, the Grand Rapids Ballet, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and the summer concert series at Frederik Meijer Gardens. The last of which was organized after Michigan became a Right to Work (for less) state. In 2008-2012 the movie business was busy in Michigan and Local 26 proved that there is more to MI than Detroit when it comes to movies.  And that just because we are a small local doesn’t mean you can push us around.  We stopped local 38 from taking the film jurisdiction for the entire state. Thanks to that income we were able to purchase our office building in 2008 and pay it off in two years. Though some opposed it at the time, it has been a great asset. Beyond the membership meetings, we have hosted numerous training classes, committee meetings, political action sign making events, and numerous other activities to build up the union.

Rose Sturgis became the first woman to serve as 2nd Vice President. She reported directly to the President. At the time the 2nd Vice President specifically focused on Wardrobe issues. Her duties included investigating all complaints of members and deciding, if possible, upon all questions between the employers and employees. Vice Presidents also act as part of the Trial Board of the Local. Rose went on to faithfully represent us for a total of four terms as 2nd Vice President.

For the first time three women were elected to the Executive Board of Local 26 at the same time. Together these ladies were able to move the union forward as a more inclusive and transparent organization. Women were starting to recognize the possibilities for success in our Local. They inspired many women to join the union. Clearly the membership recognized we were on the right path. Three years later, the 2009 election found us again with Stasia as Business Agent, Rose as 2nd Vice President, and Beth as Recording Secretary. After the 2012 election, Stasia remained in office as Business Agent and Rose as 2nd Vice President.

2015 brought the total of women elected to office to four:  Jessica Westra as Recording Secretary, Rose as 2nd VP, Stasia as BA, and Jessi Nix-Gould as a Trustee. The Local was growing by leaps and bounds. The old paper notebook and pen system we used for filling calls was finally retired and we began using CallSteward.com. It dramatically increased the transparency surrounding how we filled calls and made tracking schedules, contact information, and skills much more efficient and easier. As soon as a Labor Request was received, it was entered and visible to the members and referents. People could make plans and arrange carpools. Department Heads knew who was on their crew before they showed up for work. We were modernizing and improving.

In 2017, Beth was tasked with redesigning the Local 26 website. She worked with the developer to create our first fully functioning website, giving members and referents access to important documents such as our contracts, referral procedure, venue information and forms and making them now available at all times. Members can review meeting minutes going back multiple years. The site also provides a professional presentation to the public. She continues to oversee content and ensures information is up to date.

June 4th, 2017 at Frederik Meijer Gardens saw an entire female Local crew for Replay America. Head Carpenter Megan Claypool (Second generation Local 26 member, second from the right) led the crew through every step of the process of setting up a live show. Jess Westra was call steward at the time. One dinosaur actually asked her who was going to do the heavy lifting. The answer, as always, was simple: the women. In every department from Electrics to Audio to Rigging, we have women working and succeeding. Don’t take our word for it! The vendor was asked that day how things went. The response: “Today was a breeze, can we have them all back next time?”

In 2015, Jessi Nix-Gould was elected the first woman Trustee of Local 26. Trustees are charged with ensuring any officer or employee of the Local who handles funds and/or property is bonded as required by law. They are also responsible for auditing the books of the Local every six months and ensure all books and records of the Local are preserved for at least five years.

That is a dry description. Trustees keep us honest. They are the ones that make sure union funds are spent on union business, union training, and union causes. Jessi took this job seriously. She completed the inaugural session of IATSE’s Officers Institute Local Trustee Training and brought that knowledge back to our Local.

Stasia made history again by becoming the first woman to serve as President of IATSE Local 26.  The President presides over all meetings of the membership and Executive Board, works with the BA to set an agenda for each meeting that addresses the short and long-term goals of the union, appoints all Committees and their Chairperson, and enforces the Local’s rules, wage scales, and conditions. As President she served as Delegate to the International Convention, the Michigan Alliance, the Eighth District, and the AFL-CIO. Under Stasia’s leadership Local 26 added several standing committees, including Political Action and Diversity.

We were not a large Local, but we were definitely on a successful path. In 2006 we did $2.6 million in payroll. By the end of 2019 we had done $4.3 million in payroll.

After 12 years of successfully managing the Local as BA, we were fortunate that Stasia also used her time as President to help our next Business Agents find their footing. She has now moved on to be an International Representative for IATSE out the New York offices. She continues to inspire and mentor the next generation of leaders in Local 26.

2018 was the second time four women were elected to the Board: Stasia became the first woman President, Jess Westra the first woman 1st VP, Beth returned as Recording Secretary, and Jessi Nix-Gould remained a Trustee. While Jess Westra was Co-Chair of the Education and Safety Committee the hours spent on training between 2017 and 2019 tripled! She personally taught many safety courses, steward trainings, and new referent orientations. She also co-created courses on Knots, Weight Loading, Wardrobe, and more. She expanded the Local’s social media presence to use it as a tool for education, activism, and engagement.

Jess has been instrumental in changing new contracts and working agreements to more inclusive gender-neutral language from the male-dominated language of the past, as well as the Local’s Constitution and By-Laws, Referral Procedure, and other formal documents. She is also spearheading the addition of protections for working parents and caregivers to our agreements.

Which brings us to the present. In the 2020 election Jess Westra became President, Lindsey Katerberg joined the Board as 1st VP, and Beth remains Recording Secretary. Additionally, Jess Westra is currently working as the first female Head Video on house staff at DeVos Place.

Lindsey Katerberg may singlehandedly bring a film tax credit to Michigan. She now sits on the board of MIFiA (Michigan Film Industry Association). She has led multiple events to push for the HEROES Act, extending unemployment, and ensuring our legislators do not forget or ignore the entertainment industry. Lindsey has been interviewed multiple times by both local and national news outlets and maintains a relationship with politicians from Local to National.

Local 26 now has a dozen collective bargaining agreements and a multitude of rate sheets for ongoing work that we do across the jurisdiction.  We have good relationships with all our employers and in the community.  We are a respected local in Michigan, across the country and within the International for our ongoing accomplishments, activism, progressive attitude, and participation. It’s not uncommon for women to equal or sometimes outnumber men on a call, and calls staffed with women only are becoming far less unusual. Approximately 1/3 of our current members are women, and that proportion carries through to referents as well.

 

 

 

Campaign for Michigan Film Tax Credit

A message from Lindsey Katerberg, IATSE Local 26 First Vice President:

IATSE Local 26 West Michigan Stagehands ask for your support in our campaign for film tax credits in Michigan. Film tax credits will bring numerous forms of media to Michigan; films, streaming, television, corporate, commercial, as well as benefit and grow existing Michigan businesses, create new Michigan vendors, and most importantly create thousands of new jobs. For those of us in the live events and entertainment industry these tax credits are vital to securing new employment projects and opportunities in these uncharted times where the vast majority has not seen work in our industry since March 2020.

 

We are seeking discussion with representatives to educate and explain the nature of our industry, the breakdown of this proposed legislation, the multiple ways in which it benefits our State as a whole, and how it brings Michigan to the competitive market with over 30 other states. As we listen to those saying that these tax credits are not a priority given the pandemic and economic challenges, let us remind everyone that our industry has not yet reopened and will not any time soon, leaving us most deeply impacted. In our fight to move forward out of these dark times we have joined the Michigan Film Industry Association in their efforts to rebuild our industry cementing a more secure future for our prospective employment for years to come.

We are working with the Michigan Film Industry Association to create and support a sustainable film tax credit program.

 

The legislation includes the following:

 

  • A two-tiered program that covers both commercials/industrials & feature film/television/streaming productions
  • A transferable tax credit-based system rather than a grant or rebate based one; no money is paid out of the general fund
  • Applicants may sell off unused tax credits to other MI based companies, typically at a percentage on the dollar which makes them attractive to purchase. The tax credit stays in Michigan & benefits Michigan companies. It is a one-time transfer with up to 10 assignees
  • For projects 20 minutes or longer the application fee is $2000, requires a minimum spend of $300,000, & the cap for total credits issued per year increases at regular 3-year intervals over a 10-year period: $50 million $75 million $100 million
  • For projects 20 minutes or under the application fee is $1000, requires a minimum spend of $50,000, & the cap for total credits issued per year increases at regular 3-year intervals over a 10-year period: $2 million $4 million $10 million
  • If the cap for credits is not met they roll over into the next year
  • The application fee is non-refundable & will be used to fund the Michigan Film Office
  • To qualify production must begin within 90 days of approval
  • The base tax credit starts at 25% for in state spending with an additional 5% rewarded for the inclusion of a “Filmed in Michigan” logo
  • A 30% tax credit is awarded for hiring Michigan residents, non-residents are only given a 20% tax credit, & any wages paid out to a single person per project in excess of $500,000 do not qualify for a tax credit
  • The bill includes language defining what constitutes a “full-time employee” which will support a more accurate count when tracking the increase of jobs created as a result of the film tax credits
  • Pre-production, production, & post-production will qualify, ‘development’ costs will not
  • Language that excludes ‘pass-through’ transactions & businesses from qualifying protect Michigan based companies & encourages new business investment; qualified vendors must show a brick & mortar /inventory/full time employee presence
  • Under a tax credit-based system there is less initial burden on the Film Office & Treasury which allows applications to be processed faster- qualified expenditures are verified at the end of the project before a credit amount is issued
  • Language that requires verification by an independent CPA & signed affidavit to submit qualified expenditures for approval ensures accountability
  • No tax credits will be authorized or issued to any applicant until there is confirmation that all qualified vendor & employee invoices have been fully satisfied & paid in full which ensures that the Treasury can collect taxes before issuing the credit

 

We encourage you to reach out to your state representatives to encourage their support.

 

Something Good Ornament Contest

 

This year unleashed an avalanche of negativity, illness, and financial struggle. We all could use a break from thinking about it. So we are going take a little time to share a bit of positivity. We are inviting IATSE Local 26 members, referents, and their families to create something good. Think about what has given you solace this year. It could be a favorite song, place, character, anything that makes you happy. Are you looking forward to Christmas, New Years, or Inauguration Day? Maybe playing in the snow or curling up with your teddy bear? Then break out the arts and craft supplies. Make an ornament to celebrate it and share some joy.

Ornament must be:

  • Homemade
  • Between 1 inch and 6 inches in diameter
  • Must hang from a string
  • Be something GOOD

I understand some of our stagehands are proud to have the blackened soul of the condemned but this is a family contest. No vulgar, suggestive, or hurtful entries will be accepted.

Send photos of ornaments to mail@iatse26.org please include artist’s name and age (or just indicate artist is over 18). Entries must be submitted by no later than 5pm Friday December 18th .  ***Sunday 12/20 at 5pm*** (extended entry time). Winner’s ornaments will be featured on social media. We have prizes appropriate to each age group and gift bags for participating children. Winners and parents will be contacted about contact free prize pick up or delivery.

Age groups:

  • Under 6s
  • 7-12s
  • 13-18
  • 18+

Prizes will be awarded based on creativity, inspiration, and theme. To the lucky winner of the Broadway Puzzle, I highly recommend listening to the cast recordings while working on the puzzle. It doesn’t help you solve it any faster but it does make every move seem very dramatic!

 

 

 

 

 

Grocery Sales and Food Prep

It’s the time of year when normally we’d be buying a ton of food, getting together with family, and gorging ourselves on delicious meals we typically only get to enjoy a few times a year.

This year is different. This year our industry has been shut down for nine months and counting. Our unemployment benefits may not yet have run out, but that extra $600/week PUA is long since gone. The $1200 stimulus check went about as far as we could throw it. The pandemic has put a halt to large family gatherings. None of us know what might be coming next, or what will happen when the money runs out. For some of us, it already has. It’s a scary time, and not one in which normally we’d look at spending money.

But here’s the thing. There are a LOT of incredibly cheap deals on food right now. Doesn’t matter where you prefer to shop, they’ve all got stuff on sale at almost absurdly low prices. So the idea of this post is to show you how to buy now when everything is cheap and prep it for later when money is even tighter and you’re worried about feeding yourself and/or your family. Best part is it doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced cook or if your idea of cooking is to pop a frozen meal in the microwave. It’s not as hard as it seems! I promise.

The big thing on sale right now is turkey. And some of them are gigantic! What the heck is one person going to do with a 22 pound turkey? Roast it. Portion it. Freeze it. Eat it later. If you’re really into it, make stock with what’s left after you remove as much meat as you can. At less than 40 cents a pound, you pretty much can’t afford NOT to buy a turkey, which is why most stores have a limit on how many you can buy at one time. Doesn’t mean you can’t make multiple trips, though!

Turkeys come frozen. Not a big deal! If you have room, stick the whole thing in your freezer and make it later. They last darn near indefinitely as long as they stay frozen, although you should cook it within a year for best quality. When you get to defrosting, there are multiple options. Best one is to plan ahead, because that allows you to defrost in the refrigerator and greatly reduce your risk of foodborne illness. Figure 24 hours for each 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees (I always give myself an extra day just in case). Simply pull your turkey out of the freezer, stick it in the fridge breast side up in its sealed package, and walk away. It’s best to put it on a tray (rimmed baking sheets are great for that, but a serving tray will do just as well… you just want to make sure it’s something that will not allow any liquid to run out in case there’s a hole in the wrapper). Once it’s thawed, make sure you use it within 3-4 days, again to prevent foodborne illness.

If you are in a bigger hurry than that, Butterball has an entire page dedicated to ways to thaw your turkey. There’s even a video and a calculator so you can figure out how much time you need! Again… I always give myself an extra day just in case. Can’t hurt, could avoid discovering your turkey is still partially frozen when you’re ready to cook.

The most common way to cook a turkey is to roast it. It’s also the easiest. Added bonus: your oven runs for a long time, which warms up your house and makes it smell fantastic! There are a million different recipes for roasted turkey, of course, and depending on your skill level you might want to look into some of them. I’m just going to give you a basic method anyone can do.

Take your turkey out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to start roasting to let it warm up a bit. Adjust your oven racks so there’s enough room (you may have to remove one entirely), then preheat the oven to 325F. You’ll need a roasting pan large enough to hold the bird that’s at least 4 inches deep. You can get disposable aluminum pans at the dollar store if you don’t have one, just make sure you keep an oven-safe tray underneath it to prevent it buckling and causing a disaster and possible serious burns. It’s best if you put a rack in the bottom of the pan (tip: many modern cooling racks for baked goods can go in the oven for this purpose), but you can also use some celery stalks, onion halves, potatoes, or carrots. The idea is to keep the bird from sitting on the bottom of the pan.

Next, open the turkey package. Inside the cavity will be a parcel of parts. Pull them all out. They may be wrapped in paper, they may not. Remove everything that isn’t attached. You can throw them away, you can boil them to feed your dog (remove any bones, and don’t add seasonings), or you can save them to add to your gravy later (refrigerate until needed). Dealer’s choice. Then pat your turkey dry with paper towels, inside and out. Easiest way to season it is to salt and pepper inside and out, then stuff a couple of chopped onions, maybe chopped lemon, and some fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, and/or thyme if you have them (I’ve got Simon & Garfunkel in my head now) inside the bird. Place it breast side up inside your pan and tuck the wings underneath.

This part can get a little tricky. Carefully loosen the skin on the breast so it pulls away without tearing. Spread some butter on the meat, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and some seasonings, then lay the skin back down. Then melt some more butter and pour (or use a pastry brush) over the entire bird. Pop it in the oven, and you’re off! Figure on roasting for about 15 minutes per pound, or until a meat thermometer tested in the breast and thigh reads 160F. About halfway through the cooking time, check to see if the skin is browned. If it is, then get a large piece of aluminum foil and tent it loosely over the top so it doesn’t get burned. Once it’s at 160F, remove it from the oven, leave the foil on it, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

That’s it! You’ve successfully roasted a turkey! As for carving, do it however works for you. Does anybody really care if the slices are perfect? I surely don’t. Remove the turkey from the pan and put it on a tray or baking sheet before carving, letting as much of the pan drippings run back into the roasting pan as you can. Be careful you don’t burn yourself! Two people with forks in each hand works if you don’t have a pair of turkey lifters.

You’re going to want gravy, especially if you’re making mashed potatoes. But even if you’re not, you’ll want gravy. Easiest way is to pour the liquid left in the roasting pan into a large pan on the stove (here’s where you’d add the parts you pulled out earlier if you want, and if you used vegetables for a rack you can toss them in as well). You’ll want about 3 cups of liquid, so if you don’t have enough just add some water or chicken broth if you’ve got it to make up the difference. Then mix 1/4 cup cornstarch into 1/4 cup water until it’s completely dissolved. If you don’t have cornstarch you can use flour, it’ll just take longer to mix. Pour into the pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it’s slightly thinner than you want to eat it. Remove any large solid pieces, remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Voila, gravy! Enjoy your dinner.

Moving on to leftovers. Odds are good you’ll have a lot. Obviously you can eat it later, and I highly recommend it, but at some point you’re sick of turkey. Or you’re one person and you can’t eat an entire turkey, nor should you try. Easy! Slice it. Put it in freezer bags, remove as much air as possible, write the date on it with a Sharpie, and stick it in the freezer. Put however much in each bag you think you’ll want to eat at any given time, so you can just pull out a bag and defrost it in the right portion size. I always end up with a few bags of basically shredded meat because I’m picking it off the bones and only the breast really slices nicely. Whatever… it still works for sandwiches and it’s great for casseroles or soups.

Gravy and mashed potatoes can also be easily separately frozen. I use freezer bags, because squishy/liquid things will freeze flat and easily stack once they’re frozen. Sweet potatoes also freeze nicely, although most cooked vegetables tend to get mushy afterward. If you’ve got leftover pie (a thing I don’t get, but apparently it happens) wrap it in plastic wrap then a freezer bag and you’ll have dessert later, too.

Then there are all the other meats that are on sale. Obviously things that already come in individual portions like steaks can be frozen easily (make sure you put them in a freezer bag instead of just putting the package in the freezer), but the biggest saving even when they’re not on sale is family sized packages. They’re typically at least 15 cents a pound cheaper than buying smaller packages, and are easily broken down into portions in freezer bags. I’m only one person, but it’s been ages since I bought anything smaller than a family pack of chicken parts, ground beef, pork chops, etc. Whether you need one serving or several at a time, buy the family packs. Trust me.

Produce is also on sale right now, and a lot of it! Obviously it only stays fresh for so long, but if you’ve got freezer space you can buy a bunch of it now and eat it later. Most vegetables won’t retain their crispness after freezing, of course, so you’ll want to cook them instead of making a salad but that’s OK.

As a rule, all you need to do is blanch vegetables in boiling water (1 pound of vegetables to 1 gallon of water), then remove and immediately plunge into ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Then drain and pat dry. Then you can freeze them right away in zip-top bags or plastic containers, or you can spread them out on baking sheets to freeze before packaging (I always mean to spread them out, but I just don’t have that much room in the freezer). Cut into florets, 1-inch pieces, or separate leaves before blanching for best results. Below are the blanching times for some of the most common vegetables:

  • Asparagus: thin stalks 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness.
  • Green beans: 3 minutes.
  • Broccoli: 3 minutes.
  • Brussels sprouts: 3-5 minutes, depending on size.
  • Cabbage: 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Carrots: 2 minutes (baby carrots 5 minutes).
  • Cauliflower: 3 minutes.
  • Celery: 3 minutes (2 minutes if diced).
  • Corn on the cob: small ears (1 1/4 inches in diameter or less) for 7 minutes, medium ears (1 1/2 inch diameter) for 9, and large ears (more than 1 1/2 inches in diameter) for 11 minutes.
  • Peas: 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Summer Squash: 3 minutes.

Things like green pepper and onions can be chopped and frozen raw.

Things like winter squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes must be completely cooked before freezing.

Mushrooms can be sauteed and frozen.

A lot of fruits are also freezer-friendly! If you’re going to make smoothies, simply puree the fruit as you normally would without the added milk or whatever you do, then pour into freezer bags. Lay flat on a baking sheet until frozen, and they’ll stack nicely. The general rule is to prep it how you intend to use it. First wash, then let completely dry. Core, peel, slice, wedge, whatever you want to do. Berries can be frozen whole, except strawberries which should be hulled and at least halved. Remove rinds from any melons, but other fruits can have peel or not depending on what you prefer. Bananas can be frozen whole in their peels, but it’s better to peel them and cut into chunks (great way to save overripe bananas for making bread later!). Cherries should have their pits and stems removed.

However you prep your fruit, when you freeze it make sure you do it on a tray covered with parchment or waxed paper to prevent sticking in a single layer until completely frozen. Once they’re solid, dump them in a freezer bag (use a spatula or spoon, as touching them will start to thaw them quickly) and you’re good to go! The texture may change depending on the fruit, but it’s still good. And unlike some of the cheaper frozen fruits you can buy, there are no preservatives or added sugar!

Did you know you can make “ice cream” out of frozen bananas? I’ve read you can also do it with other fruits, but I’ve only made it with bananas. Put your frozen banana chunks in a food processor or blender and pulse until creamy. If you want to add something for flavour, go ahead! I’ve added peanut butter, Nutella, and different jellies/jams depending on my mood. Once pureed, you can either eat immediately for a frozen custard sort of texture, or pop back in the freezer for more solidity. It’s healthy, and your kids can help. Win-win!

A lot of dairy is also on sale. Did you know you can freeze some of it for later? Not all of it does well, of course, but every little bit helps. Butter freezes amazingly well. I stock up when sticks are on sale, pop them in the freezer, and after putting them in the refrigerator overnight they’re ready to go in my butter dish one stick at a time. It’s recommended you put it in a freezer bag, first, but I use a lot of butter so I just toss the box in there. Margarine does not freeze well since it’s usually oil based and also has a lot of water content.

Cheese is easy to freeze! Break it down to half-pound or smaller portions and stick it in a freezer bag, either chunk or shredded. Hard cheeses freeze better than soft ones, and it might be a little crumbly after you defrost, but the flavour is just fine. You should, however, use it within about four months.

Milk is the big one, especially for those with kids. You can freeze it in whatever container you bought, but you should open it and pour out a bit before you do so it has room to expand. Then reseal and cover with plastic wrap (in case it spills) and stick in the freezer. You should use it within a month for best quality.

Technically you can also freeze cream cheese, sour cream, and yogurt, but the texture changes when it thaws and I’m not a fan. The flavours are still good, though, so give it a shot if you want! I’ve also read you can freeze eggs if you scramble them first and add salt (1 tablespoon per cup) either whole or separated, but I’ve never tried.

Don’t forget about coupons! If you get a newspaper, they’re typically in the Sunday edition in paper form. But most stores have a loyalty program linked to an account that’s free to create, where you can link virtual coupons directly to your account. Simply enter your information when you check out and any coupons that apply to your purchases are automatically applied. I tend to “clip” every coupon for anything I could possibly buy, just in case. When they expire they fall off your account, and there’s no “I forgot my coupons!” moment while you’re at the store.

Concerns about where your next meal is coming from cause a great deal of stress, but if you plan ahead and shop smart, you can ease a lot of that worry. It just takes changing your mindset a little. Sure, most of us would prefer fresh food to frozen, but frozen food you bought on the cheap and prepped for the future is better than the highly processed, typically less than healthy foods that are the most affordable when you’re broke.

You know how this ends, it’s what I do… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME OR MASK UP. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

New Payroll Paperwork

(Updated 30 April 2021)

Most of you have already heard UTP needs everyone to do new paperwork the next time they work. There are two reasons for that:

  1. During the down time, they went through their files and purged everyone who had not worked in a year prior to March.
  2. While they were going through their files, they discovered most of the I-9s they had on file were improperly filled out, and the federal government has gotten stricter about enforcing those rules.

While some of you may already be current on paperwork, it was decided EVERYONE should fill out the packet again to avoid missing anyone. If you have not worked on a UTP-paid job recently, there is no hurry and you can fill it out either when it’s convenient for you or when you are scheduled to work the next time (which will hopefully be sooner than later!). If you have worked a UTP-paid job since September 1st, the only way to ensure you receive your pay is to fill it out ASAP.

Some things have changed from how you’re used to doing it, and they are important changes! First, the person who sees your supporting citizenship documents in person must fill out Section 2 of the I-9. That is the second page, where your documents are listed with their numbers and expiration dates (if any). This part cannot be filled out by the employee themselves, only the employer representative. You must show them a physical copy of your supporting citizenship documents. Photocopies or photographs are no longer acceptable; you must show the actual items.

Traditionally, we have suggested a driver’s license/state ID and either a birth certificate or a social security card. In lieu of those, a valid US passport has been suggested. We are not allowed to require any specific documents. The complete list of acceptable documents for each list (you must either provide one from List A or one each from Lists B and C) can be found at the Department of Homeland Security. Again, please bring the actual documents with you so we can see them, or we will be unable to complete your paperwork.

UTP has helpfully put together highlights of the instructions for the I-9. I’ve added my own actual highlights for those things most often missed. A copy is included with each paperwork packet at the office.

  1. You must write something in EVERY box in Section 1. If something does not apply to you, you must write “N/A” in that box. Yes, even apartment number. No boxes can be left empty. None.
  2. Your dates must be written in the correct format or your I-9 will be rejected. MM/DD/YYYY. In other words, if your birthday is January 7, 1980, you must write it as 01/07/1980. Same thing for the date you fill out the form. 10/31/2020 or 11/03/2020 or whatever. Has to have two digits each for month and day, and four digits for year. Every time.
  3. You must check a box as to your residency status. 99.999999% of you are citizens, which is the easy option. If any of you are not, please check the appropriate box and write any required document number(s) in the appropriate box.
  4. This one is tricky, since the photocopies aren’t as clean as I’d like. You must check a box indicating if you used a preparer/translator or not. It’s in a dark space so it’s hard to see at first glance, but it’s there and it’s important. If you do use a preparer/translator, they must fill out the information in that section.

That’s it! You’re done with your portion of the I-9! The page you see below requires nothing of you except that you provide your supporting documents from the list. We take care of the rest.

The rest of the packet is what you’re used to, for the most part. The Federal W-4 has a couple of extra pages with formulas and charts so you can figure out what you need to do when you have multiple employers. Those worksheets are for your records and are not required by the IRS through the payroll company.

Michigan W-4 is the same as it ever was, as is the Grand Rapids W-4. Please note, even if you live in a city other than Grand Rapids that charges a city income tax, UTP will not withhold that city’s tax. The only exception is if the work is performed in another city which has an income tax, such as Walker, Battle Creek, or Muskegon. To the best of my knowledge, we have never performed work for UTP in a city other than Grand Rapids which has its own city income tax.

Also in the packet is the authorization to deduct Local 26’s referral fee (currently 6%) from your check, which is a document you are required to sign under the Referral Procedure in order to work. The last form is a direct deposit application, should you want UTP to pay you that way rather than with a paper check. Please note, if you choose to use direct deposit, you must provide an email address where they can send your check stub. They do not physically mail direct deposit receipts.

This one is tricky for a lot of people for some reason. The IA26 office is open on Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. If you want to walk in without having to make an appointment, you must come during those times.

However, we’re willing to work with you because we understand those hours might not work for everyone. If you call the office (616-742-5526) during those hours or send an email to mail(at)iatse26.org, or use the “other” subject line on our Contact Us form with days/times you would like to come, we will do our best to make that happen. If possible, give us multiple choices so there’s a better chance someone will be available to meet you. It could be evenings or weekends if necessary. We want you to get paid, so we’ll try to get you in as soon as we can.

If you’d like to save time and fill out everything before you come in, great! The entire packet is available for download on the IA26 website under Member Documents – Steward DocumentsNote: If that link does not work for you, please apply for an account on the IA26 website. Simply print, fill out, and bring with you when you come and it should take less than 5 minutes to make sure everything is properly filled out and get copies of your I-9 documents. Otherwise we have packets already printed at the office you are more than welcome to fill out when you get there. Whatever works for you.

****FACE COVERING REQUIRED**** Also, we limit the number of people other than staff in the office at any one time to two. Surfaces are sanitized after each use.

Any questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email the office! We’re here to help, Tuesdays 10-2 or by appointment.

You know how this ends, it’s what I do… Be safe. Be well. Stay home or mask up. GET VACCINATED. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

CallSteward 3.0 Tutorial

*Written by Jess Westra, posted by Beth Snyder. A class is coming soon for those who need/want further explanation or instruction.

Welcome to CallSteward.com Version 3! It’s a big transition but it will get easier. We are still working on making changes to suit us.

The first thing to do is get yourself logged in. The identity system is based on email addresses. If your email address was correctly entered into CS2, you should have received an email from info@callsteward.com with a link allowing you to set a new password and log into CS3.

If that email was caught in your spam filters or you just didn’t receive it go to https://login.callsteward.com and select “Get New Password”.  It will send you an email from iatse26@mg.callsteward3.com with a link to set a new password. Please also tell your mail server that the email address it came from is not junk email.

If that does not work, chances are that your email was incorrectly listed in CS2. We can fix that. Send an email to mail@iatse26.org from the email address you want associated with your profile letting us know the issue. We can save your updated email address and send you a reset link from iatse26@mg.callsteward3.com We CANNOT create a password for you.

When you have logged in, it will then open on your Schedule.

There is a crosshatch or three parallel horizontal line in the upper left corner. This will determine if you see just the icons or the icons and words on the side navigation pane. Generally, if you are full screen on a computer it will show the icons and words but if you are using a phone, it may be easier to just see the icons.

Unconfirmed calls will always appear at the top of the list on your Schedule. When you confirm an event, it will move down the list and appear in order of date. It will ask you to confirm your decision, so do not stress about hitting the wrong button. Declined calls will be recorded under the Declined section.

To see the address of where you are working, click the pin under Job Location. At this time, we cannot list rooms assignments and location details under Job Locations. DeVos Place has 26 meeting rooms, 4 Ballrooms, 3 Exhibit halls, multiple lobbies, a skywalk, and patios, there are too many combinations to create a venue listing for each one. For any event in the DeVos Place Convention Center we will list the room assignment in the Event Name. For Example: “Wolverine – Ballroom B” or “City Commission – RO A-F”.

Select the Event to see more information.

Comments will list onsite contacts, parking information, rally points, and anything else we can tell you.

Employer Requests will continue to list show call, dress code, and special tools requests. For venues with Health Surveys the link will be listed here.

View Calls will show you everyone else on the call you have been offered. Personal opinion, not my favorite layout. The relevant information is there. We have inquired about sorting options. There is a different view for Stewards that will be covered in a different tutorial.

We can set priority for skills so that they will always be listed in this order. This in NO WAY determines how a call is filled. It is simply how the positions are listed.

  1. Heads
  2. Specialized Skills (A2, Riggers, Fly, Matrix, etc.)
  3. Wardrobe
  4. Show call Positions (Deck, Followspot, Houselights, etc.)
  5. Licensed Skills (Fork, Scissor, etc.)
  6. Hands (Carp, Elex, etc.)
  7. Other (Production, Replaced, etc.)

It’s a work in progress and may rearrange or add tiers. Anyone who has been in this industry for more than five minutes knows that the most vital role changes from show to show and sometimes throughout the course of a show. We will not participate in any arguments that one department is always more important than another department.

Your Profile should be reviewed. If any of your contact information is incorrect, please change it and NOTIFY THE OFFICE! We like to make sure you are getting your paychecks and mailings. If you are a member, you MUST notify the Secretary-Treasurer with any new contact information as the most current on file is where official communications are sent. Select Edit Profile to make changes.

Remember that your login is tied to your email address. If you have issues with changing it, our office can help.

Pay attention to the red text. If you want to receive text messages your cell phone number MUST include the area code. ALWAYS use the SAVE button after making changes!

You can change your password. We cannot. The best we can do is send you a reset link. If that does not work, we will have to turn the issue over to the support tech. They are happy to help and can fix issues we cannot.

You do not have permission to change your own skills. Call stewards are allowed to give the following basic skill checks: Audio, Carpenter, Electrician, Hand, Loader, Projection, Prop, Pusher, Replaced, and Student. Everything else must be approved by the Business Agent. Some may require proof of certification (Fork, CDL, etc.) or a skill evaluation (Weight Loading, Board Op, etc.).

PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE. Update your availability. No one’s Recurring Unavailability transferred over. If you have a regular schedule at another job or are in school, enter the hours here. We will not offer you work that conflicts with it, only jobs you are available to work.

ALWAYS use the SAVE button after making changes!

You can decide if you prefer a 12 or 24-hour clock. It will not affect how anyone else sees it.

By default, the site will email you job offers. You can choose SMS (text to your cell) if you prefer it. This is completely your choice. The first time the call steward sends you a message from CS3 it will be followed up by a text from the call steward phone 616-808-1892. Once we have confirmed you are getting the messages, we will only notify you from CS3. Please review the IATSE Local 26 Referral Procedure. Changes were made recently regarding response time and several other things.

Note from Beth: If you cannot open the link to the Referral Procedure, you do not have an account for the IA26 website. Please scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Request an Account”. We will approve you for a login as soon as possible. Logins are available to all members and referents who have worked at least one call.

Red Flag There is a small glitch in the system right now. You can move the dot between SMS and Email without being in Edit Profile mode. It will let you select options, but it does not save it, nor does it affect how you are being sent calls.

Reach out if you are having trouble maneuvering the site.  This is new for all of us.

From Beth: You should be used to seeing this, and it still holds true… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME OR MASK UP. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!

Michigan State University Fall Workshop Series

Another online education opportunity has been brought to our attention! This one from Michigan State University’s Labor Education Program (LEP). Their Fall Workshop Series this year focuses on diversity and inclusion in the labor movement, which has been under a spotlight lately. It’s always been vital to have a diversified and inclusive workplace, but unfortunately even the labor movement, which has traditionally been more welcoming of others, has fallen short. This series will show you ways in which to improve and make the entire workforce better, and each workshop is only 90 minutes so it’s not a huge time commitment.

These are not free workshops, but they are inexpensive. You can either pick and choose which one(s) to attend at $25.00 each, or you can get a discount and take all five at a total cost of $100.00. All workshops will take place via Zoom.

The first workshop “will include an introduction to the Diversity and Inclusion in the Labor Movement series, followed by a discussion of African Americans in the labor movement including some history, information on current issues, and possible future directions.”  Steven C. Pitts comes to the program from UC Berkeley, where he focuses on issues of job quality and Black workers. Clayola Brown is the National President of APRI, and brings a long history of union organization (she helped her mother bring the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) to the Manhattan Shirt Factory in Charleston when she was only 15!).

Second is Women and the Labor Movement, which “will focus on the history of women in the labor movement, current issues, and the future direction of women in the movement.” Michelle Kaminski has been with the LEP for quite some time, with a focus on”labor law, collective bargaining, steward training, communication skills, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the union role in team concept workplaces, and basic economic history.” Angie Miller from the Mid-Michigan Area Labor Council comes from CWA Local 4108, and also has a long history organizing and fighting for workers’ rights.

The third workshop focuses on the history of Latinx workers and where we go from here. Delia Fernandez is an assistant professor in the History Department at MSU, and “is a historian of Latina/o history whose work focuses on how Latina/os use panethnic identity to garner more political, social, and economic rights in the twentieth century.” There will be another speaker for this workshop from the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, but that person has not yet been named.

Fourth is LGTBQ Rights, a subject with which the IATSE has been very proactive. It will focus on a history of the evolution of legal rights for LGBTQ workers, and a discussion of current issues. Stacy Hickox is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources & Labor Relations at MSU, and “practiced law in the area of disability law at Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service prior to coming to SHRLR. Ms. Hickox also taught for several years at MSU’s law school, including courses in employment law, civil rights, and disability law.” Cynthia L. Thorton currently serves as President of Pride at Work Michigan, “a nonprofit organization that represents LGBTQ union members and their allies that works to organize mutual community support between the organized labor movement and the LGBTQ members within it.”

Finally is Fighting Discrimination and Promoting Inclusion. This is something needed not just in the workplace but in our everyday lives. Stacy Hickox and Michelle Kaminski we learned about above. Rick Shafer serves as Dean of Students at MSU “with 20+ years of experience supporting safe and healthy learning environments on 4 different university campuses… with expertise in restorative justice, social justice, mediation, student conduct administration, sexual assault/sexual harassment adjudication, academic and personal integrity, wellness, emotional intelligence, self-efficacy and leadership.”

If you can at all afford it, I highly recommend any and all of these workshops. The MSU LEP has an excellent reputation, and every time I’ve taken one of their courses or simply attended a talk, I’ve learned something valuable and helpful for both work and regular life. For more information and to register, please visit Michigan State University’s Conferences, Workshops, & Special Events.

Here we go again… Be safe. Be well. STAY HOME OR MASK UP. And as always… WASH YOUR HANDS!