Countervailing Tariffs the Best Way to Bring Work Home
FTAC Countervailing Tariff Coalition
Fellow Workers, Vendors, and all those adversely affected by runaway production:
Last week at the IATSE Convention in Chicago a resolution was submitted by a few forward thinking IA locals, asking IATSE to support the Countervailing Tariffs petition. We knew that it would be opposed and defeated but we wanted to get the word out. The word got out and about 30% of Tom Short's hand picked delegates had the guts to vote with us on the petition.
Nearly three hundred thousand American Film and Television Workers have been negatively affected by the exodus of our jobs to Canada and elsewhere. This is a very complicated issue, and we have done a great deal of research and had many discussion with lawyers, politicians and other film makers in order to find the best plan to combat the export of our jobs overseas. We can't afford to wait too long because the problem is not going to solve itself. Each day more of our brothers and sisters lose their homes, lose their insurance, go bankrupt or leave the business all together. Also, many industry rental and supply houses have or are in the process of closing their doors.
The time has come to DO something about it.
We at FTAC support the COUNTERVAILING TARIFF proposal, which would impose a Tariff (import duty) on film and TV productions made elsewhere but brought back to the U.S. for broadcast or theatrical release. The tariff will be equal to the amount of a foreign government subsidy received by the producer, thereby canceling out the advantage to shooting abroad by leveling the playing field. This type of tariff has been working for years supporting the steel, chemical, agricultural machinery, computer chip, textile, and other industries. The legal mechanism is already in place (and has been since the 1930's), and would NOT require new legislation or to be passed by Congress. We just have to persuade the International Trade Commission at the Department of Commerce that the U.S. film and TV industries and workers have been hurt by foreign competition. The Commerce Department published a report on runaway productions about six months ago. In that report the commission agreed that runaway productions are a very serious problem and films must be brought back to save the US film community.
To apply we must show that at least 50% of our business has been affected by runaway productions. This should be no problem because the number is much higher that 50%. Some of the individuals and groups who support the petition are: SAG's Legislative Board, IATSE local 728, Film and Television Action Committee, Teamsters Local 399, Teamsters Local 592, 10,000 Plus IATSE Members, Film Vendors and Suppliers, Antonio Villaraigosa, Ed Begley Jr. to name a few. We are also talking with Laborers Local 724, AFL-CIO, AFTRA, EIDC, Florida Film Commission, and many IATSE locals. Simultaneously through a petition campaign, we are collecting signatures from film and TV professionals like us who have lost work to overseas production. At present, we have over 3,000 petitions in circulation all around the country. President Bush, expected to be no friend to labor, has been and continues to be supportive of countervailing tariffs to protect those industries listed above, as are 61 U.S. Senators, who recently signed a letter telling President Bush not to mess with our trade protections such as countervailing tariffs.
Local 600 Executive Director Bruce Doering, IATSE International President Tom Short and the studios and networks support a different proposal, a government subsidy plan for the U.S., which would give federal tax money to studios and networks, as an incentive to shoot their productions here. They call it the "Wage Based Credit" plan, but this is really a "corporate welfare" proposal designed to take billions of our tax dollars away from other (and more important) government programs. Programs such as Social Security, health care and education, and give that money to the richest multi-national companies in the world. It's easy to see why the studios support subsidies, but why would ANY labor official support it? Their support is suspect, at best. Subsidies would not provide any deterrent to filming abroad, either. Companies would still shoot abroad, take advantage of the currency exchange rates and lower wages, collect the foreign subsidies, and would get U.S. subsidies for other productions that they would have shot in the U.S. anyway. This plan accomplishes nothing except to deplete the U.S. Treasury.
It would not bring a single job back to the U.S. There is absolutely no discouragement or penalty to the producers for taking our jobs away.
Bruce Doering told the Local 600 NEB that subsidy legislation is pending in Congress. What he "forgot" to mention is that the bill has so little support that it is stuck in committee with very little, if any, chance of passing.
I am asking your help in spreading the word about countervailing tariffs. Here on the website is a .PDF (Adobe Acrobat) file version of the Countervailing Tariff Petition that is circulating now in the film and TV industry. This is how we will let the International Trade Commission know just how large the problem is, by letting them see that we have all been injured by the export or our jobs to Canada and elsewhere. If we can collect 50,000 or 100,000 signatures, they will have to consider our case seriously.
Please print out and circulate our petition among your friends and co-workers in the industry. Ask them to make copies and send them to other film workers and send completed petitions to the address on the bottom of the petition. The Film and Television Action Committee is the group organizing the petition effort, and they will send the completed petitions on to Washington. Keep one copy blank or the .pdf file so you can photocopy or print out additional petitions as you need them. If you cannot print out the .pdf file, please e-mail me with your address and I will mail to you a paper copy of the petition for you to photocopy and distribute.
This is the most important issue facing us today or even this year.Please help us get the Countervailing Tariff petitions circulated and signed so we can let Washington know how many U.S. workers have been hurt.
DON'T JUST COMPLAIN ABOUT CANADA AND THE OTHER SUBSIDY COUNTRIES, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
For Petitions and More Information : •800-863-6134 • ftac.net
IMPORTANT INFORMATIONAL LINKS:
Made in USA Foundation: http://www.madeusa.org