A brief point on union meetings

Written By: - Date published: 1:11 pm, October 1st, 2010 - 45 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

There’s a story doing the rounds today about the actors’ union denying Peter Jackson entry to a union meeting. It’s basically Jackson having a good old whine about how it just shows how unreasonable the union is being and how they won’t even talk to him.

Life must be so hard when you’re a multi-millionaire who doesn’t understand employment law.

Considering Jackson refuses to hire his staff under employment contracts and forces them all to work as independent contractors I can see why he might be a little bit confused about how these things work. So I’ll explain it really simply.

Union meetings are for union members. They’re not for employers. They’re not for “industry people”. And they’re very rarely for media.

The reasoning is simple. Union members, in order to negotiate collectively, need to have a forum where they can discuss the issues freely and openly without the employer breathing down their neck. They also need to be able to agree on a negotiating strategy without their employer finding out in advance what that strategy is. That would kind of defeat the purpose of having a strategy.

Likewise, employers don’t tend to invite union reps to sit in on management meetings about how they plan to handle contract negotiations with the union.

The place for unions and employers to negotiate is at the negotiating table, not at each other’s planning meetings.

It is a worry that Peter Jackson is so woefully misinformed about how employment relationships work, but I guess it’s what we should expect from a man who’s built his business on forcing people to work as “independent contractors” and threatens capital flight the moment his workers start organising.

45 comments on “A brief point on union meetings”

  1. david civil servant 1

    on the other trotter it would seem that if the union were serious about engaging with Jackson they would have allowed him entry for a period of time to make an address however now it looks more likely that this a union beat up

    • Juan Manuel Santos 1.1

      But that’s not what union meetings are for. They’re about workers meeting together to decide on a course of action, which their chosen representatives (elected delegates) then take to management with a democratic mandate.

      It’s not an opportunity for the employer to come in, eye-ball who’s there and attempt to guilt-trip and/or threaten workers into backing down.

      Jackson either doesn’t understand employment law or is using this as a cynical attempt to smear the union. Neither would surprise me.

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      I love how entertainment projects destined to make one hundred-two hundred-three hundred million dollar profits for the corporations, there is no money in the kitty to give workers minimum wage protections and other basic entitlements.

      • Roflcopter 1.2.1

        Actually, there is and they were already negotiated for this film. And they were getting paid well above market rates.

        But don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story, eh?

        • Juan Manuel Santos 1.2.1.1

          I’d be cautious about Jackson’s figures on this after he’s lied or wilfully misunderstood everything else so far. Touching to see how readily you accept his unverifiable figures as “facts” though.

          • Roflcopter 1.2.1.1.1

            Ummm, some of your own beloved union members are saying this, on condition of not revealing who they are.

            • Tigger 1.2.1.1.1.1

              Rolf – care to elaborate with facts?

              • grumpy

                But, from the Herald article, the union allowed in non-union actors – and even allowed them to vote!

                • bbfloyd

                  G.. do you not understand what a fool you make yourself look when you quote a third rate newspaper like the herald..you know, of course, who pays for the “news” they print, don’t you?

              • felix

                Don’t hold your breath – he’s been claiming to have detailed info for days but strangely can’t seem to produce any.

            • tea 1.2.1.1.1.2

              In breaking news I can prove everything on condition I don’t- source this constant crap or stfu.

  2. The Baron 2

    He could also be “whining” because people are trying to destroy his project, and the jobs it creates, but he has not yet had an opportunity to sit down and talk about it and try find a workable solution…

    Sorry, I forgot only Union fanboy comments allowed.

    This petty point scoring is getting out of hand. Can we get over all this crap and actually find some way to have the movies made here, please?

    • The Voice of Reason 2.1

      Bullshit, Baron. Jackson has refused to meet with the union reps and he has no right to try and crash their members’ meeting. What an obnoxious bully he turns out to be. If the movie goes overseas, it’ll be because he’s cocked up the organisation of it. He’s already fluffed around so much he’s lost a director, now he wants kiwi workers to subsidise the making of it.

      Anytime he gets off his high horse and sits down with the union, the problem can be solved and the movie made. Till then, Jackson remains the reason the Hobbit is at risk.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        I’m coming around to the idea that this is not so much about the money, which realistically would be not that much more in the scheme of things for The Hobbit. But that it is about trying to prevent an increased level of worker organisation in the NZ entertainment industry.

        Such a change would permanently (or at least for the long term) shift the balance of power more towards local workers for every future production project now on the cards.

        And it is probably that ongoing prospect that Jackson et al are finding unpalatable.

    • jagilby 2.2

      You forget Baron that the Union only endorses job creation when it results in more Union subs being paid.

  3. burt 3

    Perhaps he thought that since the unions demand access to places of employemnt whenever they want and that they always bang on about good faith that he would be able to join the meeting.

    • felix 3.1

      Perhaps they ruined his holiday in the 70s and he’s still crying about it.

      • grumpy 3.1.1

        Seems the NZ branch of Actor’s Equity now want to talk to Jackson. perhaps the Aussie/NZ solidarity is starting to crack?
        Also, in NZ there seems to be a dramatic difference of opinion between Auckland and Wellington members.

        • The Voice of Reason 3.1.1.1

          “Seems the NZ branch of Actor’s Equity now want to talk to Jackson.”

          FFS, grumpy, that’s how the whole thing started! They have always wanted to talk to Jackson, but he has refused to meet them. What you haven’t grasped is that AE is affiliated to the MEAA. They are, in effect, the same entity. Having tried locally to meet with Sauron, sorry, Jackson, they then asked the larger organisation to help when he wouldn’t front. Hence the involvement of the MEAA. It’s not a problem to be solved, grumpy, its what unions do. Solidarity, eh.

      • mcflock 3.1.2

        Perhaps he misheard when an elderly actor yelled “You shell out not for our parts!”

      • burt 3.1.3

        Bully, it still hurts. 🙁

        But seriously, the lack of good faith is rightly comparable and I’m happy you made that association yourself.

  4. Sweetd 4

    In unrelated news, Peter Jackson’s studio is on fire in Wellington.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      In which the building burnt to the ground while Jackson negotiated individual contracts with each of the firefighters attending.

      • comedy 4.1.1

        Unfortunately all the actors also perished as they were unable to exit the building without union approval…….

        • The Voice of Reason 4.1.1.1

          Luckily Jackson realised the actors’ deaths were a clear breach of their contractual obligations and was able to cancel their insurance policies before they could blow the no claims bonus.

          • comedy 4.1.1.1.1

            No Australian actors were harmed in the incident according to the MEAA.

            (he he this is fun, let’s see if we can attract the ire of the sysop)

  5. Ten Miles Over 5

    goodbye movie industry, I can’t say I’ll even notice you’re gone.

  6. BigSigh 6

    The posts on this website seem *extremely* one sided. So far no one has explained why the NZ actors haven’t actually formed a union IN new zealand and tried to negotiate. Seems this is all an Australian union with nothing to lose and everything to gain and actually very few members in NZ, and its not even a legit union in NZ… sooo… explain please how PJ is the bad ass in all this but there’s no criticism against this aussie union, or against why the actors are so disorganised?

    Seriously, they should’ve got organised a long time ago, BEFORE this started, then rather than flat out call a boycott, first raise the issue, THEN if no satisfactory response call for the boycott.

    Please, please can someone explain why this other side of the issue is somehow considered completely OK behaviour?

    [lprent: Read the about. Learn about the site. While you’re at it read the policy as well. It will help prevent my having to waste time explaining the bleeding obvious to yet another idiot luser. ]

  7. BigSigh 7

    Errr… that’s a bit harsh… and neither seem to explain this… I guess I’ll just have to stick with the limited view the MSM gives me then which seems to paint the union pretty badly in this situation (and fairly so).

    captcha: forget [it]

    • Eddie 7.1

      Lynn understandably gets tired of explaining the bleeding obvious to people who haven’t read the about or the policy. This is a labour movement blog, it’s not required to provide ‘balance’ and has no pretence of doing so. You come hear to read perspectives from the left. Other perspectives are available in great abundance elsewhere. Try http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz or http://www.nzherald.co.nz

  8. Craig Ranapia 8

    Which begs the question why they were quite happy to admit non-union members (and I know that for a fact) to both meetings in Auckland and Wellington. Then again, when I belonged to a union it wasn’t run by clown school drop outs.

    Hope I didn’t use too many big words there, Eddie.

    • Eddie 8.1

      Sometimes a union will allow non-union employees who are considering joining the union. Often it’s necessary in the early stages of the campaign. That’s non inconsistent with the post. Union meetings are not for employers.

      • Craig Ranapia 8.1.1

        Eddie: You’re simply being disingenuous — non-union members were admitted to both meetings. A simple matter of fact you either weren’t aware of, or failed to mention because it didn’t fit your thesis. And it’s too cute for words to pretend there’s no difference between a semi-public meeting organised by a union, and a strategy session. If The Standard to going to run around calling Jackson a liar, you folks really should be a little more careful with the “truthiness” yourselves.

        • The Voice of Reason 8.1.1.1

          The words ‘semi public’ suggests you understand that means control over attendance, so you get that the organisers have the right to allow or deny entry. The difference between Jackson and invited guests is that he is the boss. It’s a union meeting, and the union have every right to tell him to piss off. The minute workers get to attend board meetings, I’ll reassess my position.

          • Craig Ranapia 8.1.1.1.1

            Voice of Reason: I also understand the difference between what happened last night and an AGM, executive meeting, or a strategy session ahead of contract negotiations. Funny how you don’t — and Eddie seems quite happy to fudge that not-exactly-trivial distinction.

            • The Voice of Reason 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Funny how you don’t know about union meetings, Craig. They’re defined in the Act.

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    “Hope I didn’t use too many big words there, Eddie.”

    “Which raises the question of why…”.

    No charge, smart guy.

  10. Harpoon 10

    Is Equity a union?

    • The Voice of Reason 10.1

      Let me see … Wikipedia thinks so:

      “A trade union (British English) or labor union (American English) is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions”

      It’s funny how people who usually come here to complain about the strictures of the state seem to be saying Equity’s failure to follow bureaucratic regulation is somehow a bad thing. But then, I never thought I’d see a day when a Kiwi Prime Minister would consider the cover up of the theft of the identity of a dead baby ethically acceptable.

  11. salsy 11

    We can still be pro-labour, pro-union, pro workers rights and question the motives of the MEAA, given all the misinformation flying around, Id even go as far as to say, its actually the smart thing to do.
    This is stolen from an annonymous post: So let me get this straight.

    Equity NZ through what appears to be administrative negligence, has lost it’s legal standing as an organisation representing NZ performers.

    For more than a year they refuse to meet with SPADA, who represent all NZ producers to discuss improved working conditions for NZ actors, in accordance with the ECA and NZ labour laws.

    They demand to meet the producers of The Hobbit to discuss a collective contract negotiated by them, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that this would be illegal under the Commerce Act.

    The producers of the Hobbit point that the rates they pay have been quite generous, and are only getting better. Meanwhile Equity refuses to spell out exactly what it is they are seeking, apart from muttering about credits (?!) and unspecified terms unrelated to pay.

    If what they are asking for is so little, and the arrangement in the past have been fair, why boycott it and risk the entire shebang?

    The behavour seems self destructive, unless you look at it from the point of view of the MEAA.

    Ask yourself these questions: When was the last time a large organisation, especially an Australian one, spend money and time for completely altruistic reasons? They don’t; Just like a company their own organisational interest come first. The vast bulk of MEAA members work in Australia, what do they have to lose if they create industrial strife in NZ? = Nothing. What do they have to gain if NZ is no longer an attractive option for American, British, or indeed Australian production finance? They keep productions in Australia, and Australian performers nests feathered.

    So looking at the disorganised and bizarre behaviour surround this and other issues, either Equity and MEAA are complete idiots about the law and reality of the territory they are working in, or more likely, the MEAA cares far more about stopping runaway production from coming to NZ than it does about NZ actors. Why else would they refuse to meet with SPADA and make an honest attempt to draw up more favourable guidelines for actors?

    It’s difficult to watch a bunch of nice actors, who apparently have no sense of the bigger picture, being manipulated to act against their own interests like this.

    • Daveo 11.1

      I agree that Actors Equity and the MEAA have been pretty hamfisted of their handling of things, but your conspiracy theories about the Australians are way off.

      Aussie unions work with Kiwi unions all the time. Just recently Australian unions put in the hard yards to help EPMU and MUNZ members achieve trans-tasman pay parity on offshore oil rigs.

      In fact the big bad MEAA that you seem to think is intent on destroying NZ actually works with the EPMU on journalist issues to the point that the two unions produce a joint magazine for journalists that’s largely funded and produced on the Aussie end.

      It’s not just the Aussies either. The SFWU has works closely with the SEIU in the US and the two unions jointly ran the CleanStart campaign.

      Unions aren’t businesses, they are workers’ organisations based on the principles of solidarity and collective action. There are countless examples of unions helping each other out across national boundaries.

      If you want to look at motives here I’d start asking why Jackson is so keen to pretend he has to employ his staff as independent contractors and why he keeps making shit up in the media when he really should know better.

  12. Tiger Mountain 12

    What a motley crew of non unionists, ex barely unionists and union opponents attempting to comment here, a pathetic display indeed.

    • comedy 12.1

      Yes how dare anyone apart from a union spokesperson (approved spokesperson) offer comment.

      Crikey next the fuckers here will be offering opinions on politics without being members of parliament.

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  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago

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