International Documentary Association workers announce union and demand recognition

Eleven staff members of the nonprofit International Documentary Association (IDA) have announced the formation of a union, Documentary Workers United (DWU) linked to the larger Communication Workers of America Local 9003.

Like a March 14 Deadline article noted, the workers “sent a statement to IDA Monday morning, executive director Rick Pérez informed him of the decision and gave him 24 hours to grant “voluntary recognition” to the union.

The request for union recognition follows continued resignations within the nonprofit, citing unresolved issues of abusive behavior, leadership apathy and other issues in the organization.

“We stand on the shoulders of our union colleagues at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Film at Lincoln Center and Jigsaw Productions – among many others – as we step into this fight for a workplace. fair,” noted one of the union members. organizers.

Left Voice applauds the decision of IDA workers to unionize and calls on the labor movement and the general public to support Documentary Workers United in its demand for recognition.

Here we reproduce DWU’s press release and mission statement.


Press release: International Documentary Association staff take steps to unionize

Los Angeles, Calif. (March 14, 2022) – The staff of the International Documentary Association (IDA) today formally submitted a statement calling for voluntary union recognition at the leading nonprofit documentary organization. This was sent after a unanimous staff vote to form a union, under the name Documentary Workers United (DWU), in partnership with Local 9003 of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

This vote included all full-time employees – 11 out of a total of 16 remaining IDA employees – whose designations are below the senior management level and who have not been recruited in the past few months to temporary positions. vacant jobs. The move comes as staff face unprecedented challenges within the organization. Since December 2021, nearly 50% of staff have left the organization, many in protest that many concerns raised by staff remain unaddressed.

DWU’s mission statement, included below, was delivered to IDA Executive Director Richard Ray “Rick” Pérez at 10:00 a.m. PT, and he was given 24 hours to respond.

“We hope there will be no organizational resistance to this initiative,” said a DWU organizer who chose to remain anonymous, “However, we are prepared to pursue a formal election in accordance with U.S. law if we meet with opposition.”

“After a rocky start to 2022, we have determined that organizing is the only way, as our mission statement says, to continue to fight for IDA’s mission and community, reduce employee turnover and resist the erasure of institutional memory. they added.

“We stand on the shoulders of our union colleagues at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Film at Lincoln Center and Jigsaw Productions – among many others – as we embark on this fight for a workplace. fair,” continued another lead organizer, “We seek the solidarity and support of our peers as we work towards a documentary ecosystem that serves the community – including us workers – in the fair and equitable way we deserve. to be served.”

DWU’s social media accounts include @IDAWorkersUnion on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook along with the hashtag #StandWithIDAWorkers.

United Documentary Workers: Mission Statement

We, the staff of the International Documentary Association (IDA), have decided to collectively exercise our rights under United States law to organize a union. This union will make IDA stronger and more effective and fulfill IDA’s mission. This will empower and protect staff as we demand needed improvements, negotiate fairness (in pay, benefits, working conditions and support) and build solidarity across departments.

It is essential that we establish a union as this will help ensure a safe workplace with transparency, fairness and equity while providing staff with opportunities to participate and have a voice in the management and vision of IDA. As the people closest to the job, we seek to have a say in decisions about organizational priorities, hiring of staff, growth and allocation of resources so that all aspects of our work are more responsible for our mission and our values.

We have come to the conclusion that we need the structure and power of a union to defend ourselves in an environment where we feel largely unsupported. To this end, we, the staff of the International Documentary Association (IDA), have chosen the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 9003 as our spokesperson. We partner to create a safe and fair workplace and to negotiate a legally binding contract that meets the goals we have collectively defined:

Prioritize staff concerns and set reasonable deadlines/benchmarks for the organization, rather than fixing IDA’s public image.

Continue to respect the authority of the IDA Employee Handbook.

Create a clear process for reporting issues to management in good faith, without fear of repercussions.

Create accountability for situations where IDA leadership diminishes current and former staff (foul language, aggressive outbursts, sharing confidential information, etc.) in both private and public settings.

Transparency in promotion and hiring processes within an equitable and sustainable management/department structure, as well as a fair and competitive salary scale for all staff.

Involvement of relevant staff members in crucial departmental decisions.

Fair compensation for extra work done by staff to fill vacancies.

Protection from scrutiny for additional work performed outside of IDA working hours.

Protection of staff executive authority over their organizational tasks as described in their job descriptions.

Long-term commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI).

We IDA workers invest our most authentic and fearless selves so that IDA can thrive, endure and serve our community. For an organization to thrive, working conditions and the working environment must improve for everyone. We are taking these steps so that we can continue to fight for the IDA mission and community, to reduce staff turnover, and to resist the erasure of institutional memory. We believe that organizing is the step we need to take to make these improvements a reality.

We want IDA to voluntarily recognize all associates, coordinators, specialists, officers and non-senior managers in our union. We would like a signature or response to this request within 24 hours.

Questions or messages of solidarity can be sent to: [email protected]

This new public struggle can be followed on social networks:
@IDAWorkersUnion on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Andrew B. Reiter