International Documentary Association Union Voluntarily Recognized – The Hollywood Reporter
Just two days after its workers announced they were trying to form a union, the International Documentary Association says it voluntarily recognized the bargaining unit allied to the Communications Workers of America. Yet these workers say IDA has yet to sign a formal document that would make it official.
The IDA board announced its decision in a letter to staff members and in a press release on Wednesday. “In the interest of moving forward and healing together, we accept your request to recognize Documentary Workers United (DWU), in partnership with Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 9003, as representative of an appropriate bargaining unit of employees. to IDA,” the letter reads. “Once again, we look forward to working together on next steps, including further articulating our respective roles and responsibilities and establishing processes that will allow us to strengthen IDA, develop our shared vision of a more fair and inclusive and to fulfill the essential obligations of the organization in the field.
In a statement released later Wednesday, first reported by Deadline and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, members of Documentary Workers United said that despite this promise, management has yet to sign off on the group’s “mission statement” as requested. Additionally, “Representatives from Communications Workers of America Local 9003 are now approaching management with a letter of recognition asking them to sign an official document acknowledging the union. They’re waiting until tomorrow for that answer.
“We hope IDA management will follow through on their written promise to voluntarily recognize our union,” a DWU member who chose to remain anonymous said in a statement. “But until we receive this signature, we will not be officially recognized as a union.”
The decision comes after nine staff members have left in recent months, with four publicly attributing their decision to leave the nonprofit to the board’s reaction to workplace conduct complaints. (The board, in turn, said in a statement: “We have been thorough and committed to being fair and equitable, and we have come together to ensure that IDA continues to be an essential resource. for the documentary community.”)
On Monday, the Documentary Workers United group sent a message to IDA executive director Richard Ray Perez stating its hope to unionize with the CWA and asking for voluntary recognition. They initially demanded a response within 24 hours, but then granted management two deadline extensions after Perez requested more time to convene the IDA board and review the request “with respect.” and diligence”. Their desired bargaining unit included 11 of the remaining 16 full-time staff in roles including associates, coordinators, specialists, officers and non-senior managers.
Staff members have sought, together with the union, to ensure that the workplace adheres to the IDA employee handbook and that it “prioritizes[d] staff concerns. Documentary Workers United also said it wants to create a reporting process that won’t result in retaliation, take a closer look at compensation for workers taking on former employee responsibilities, and increase transparency in the hiring and promotion process.
The Documentary Workers United group said that they “stand on the shoulders” of other organizing groups that have formed in the nonprofit and documentary space, including WGA East’s Jigsaw Union (voluntarily recognized in October), the Brooklyn Academy of UAW Music (whose first union contract was ratified in 2020) and UAW Film at Lincoln Center Union (which won an NLRB election in 2020).
March 16, 6:05 p.m. Updated to include statements from the DWU on the announcement.