- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Just two days after its workers announced they were attempting to form a union, the International Documentary Association says it has voluntarily recognized the bargaining unit allied with the Communications Workers of America. Still, those workers say the IDA hasn’t yet signed a formal document that would make it official.
The IDA board announced their decision in a letter to staffers and in a press statement on Wednesday. “In the interest of moving forward and healing together, we agree to your request to recognize the Documentary Workers United (DWU), in partnership with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 9003, as the representative of an appropriate bargaining unit of employees at IDA,” the letter states. “Again, we look forward to working together on next steps, including further articulating our respective roles and responsibilities and establishing processes that enable us to strengthen the IDA, grow our shared vision for a more equitable and inclusive documentary community and fulfill the organization’s essential obligations to the field.”
In a statement issued later on Wednesday, first reported by Deadline and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Documentary Workers United members said that despite this promise, management has not yet signed the group’s “mission statement” as requested. Moreover, “Representatives from the Communications Workers of America Local 9003 are now reaching out to management with a Letter of Recognition requesting they sign a formal document recognizing the union. They are waiting until tomorrow for that response.”
“We are hopeful that IDA management will follow through on their written promise to voluntarily recognize our union,” a DWU member that opted to remain anonymous said in a statement. “But until we receive this signature we are not officially recognized as a union.”
The decision comes after the departure of nine staffers in the past few months, with four publicly attributing their decision to move on from 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 are united in ensuring the 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 declaring their hopes to unionize with the CWA and asking for voluntary recognition. They initially asked for a response within 24 hours, but then gave management two extensions on the deadline after Perez asked for more time to gather the IDA’s board and “respectfully and diligently” consider the request. Their desired bargaining unit included 11 out of 16 remaining full-time staff members in roles including associates, coordinators, specialists, officers and non-senior managers.
The staffers sought, with the union, to make sure the workplace adhered to the IDA Employee Handbook and that it “prioritize[d] staff concerns.” Documentary Workers United also said they wanted to create a reporting process that wouldn’t result in retaliation, take a closer look at compensation for workers taking on former employees’ responsibilities and increase transparency into the hiring and promotions process.
The Documentary Workers United group has said that they “stand on the shoulders” of other organizing groups that have formed in the nonprofit and documentary space, including the WGA East’s Jigsaw Union (voluntarily recognized in October), the UAW’s Brooklyn Academy of Music union (whose first union contract was ratified in 2020) and the UAW’s Film at Lincoln Center Union (which won an NLRB election in 2020).
March 16, 6:05 p.m. Updated to include the DWU’s statements on the announcement.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day