Benefits of Membership
The primary function of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829 is to negotiate and administer collectively bargained agreements that provide the minimum terms governing the work of Scenic Artists, Designers and Coordinators in scenery shops, motion pictures, television, commercials, theatre, opera, dance, and industrial shows. Members have the right to participate in the negotiation of these agreements and to vote on their ratification. This collective voice with employers is exponentially stronger than any individual.
The Contracts section contains lists of the many Agreements, which contain provisions setting wages, working conditions, premium pay, grievance procedures, and many other terms. All Agreements mandate employer contributions for health and Retirement, which are detailed later in this section.
USA 829 also works with other industry groups such as the Council of Broadway Unions and Guilds, the New York Production Locals, the Chicago Entertainment Industry Labor Council and many others to address issues within the industry.
As an affiliate of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, IATSE, we are part of a larger labor family which brings both privileges and obligations, but most importantly strength.
Health and Retirement Benefits
Those working under United Scenic Artists contracts have access to group health insurance and several types of retirement funds. All USA 829 Collectively Bargained Agreements require employer contributions to the various benefit funds.
Health Insurance is provided through the IATSE National Benefit Funds, Health Plan “C” a flexible program designed for project based Entertainment Industry workers. The Plan provides multiple levels of coverage for both single and family participants. Premiums are paid through a combination of employer contributions and participant self-pay depending on the level of coverage each participant elects.
All USA 829 Agreements include retirement benefit payments. Pension and Annuity contributions are made solely by the Employer and are in addition to compensation. 401k contributions are made by the employee as tax deferred income, and some Agreements (primarily scenic shops) include an Employer match. Virtually all USA 829 Agreements include Pension contributions, but not necessarily 401k and/or Annuity. The number of Collectively Bargained Agreements that require annuity contributions is growing each year.
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF RETIREMENT BENEFIT FUNDS
Defined Benefit Pension Fund
The United Scenic Artists Pension Fund is a “defined benefit” fund. The Fund operates on employer contributions made on behalf of individuals working under a Union agreement. The language of the agreement determines the amount contributed and the rules of the Fund determine the eventual benefit. The assets of this Fund are invested by the Board of Trustees, made up of equal numbers of Union and Employer appointed members, with the advice of investment professionals. All monies contributed belong to the Fund and qualified vested participants receive a defined pension benefit at retirement. A participant who becomes “vested” by accruing 5 or more vesting service years will receive a pension when they reach retirement age. The monthly pension amount will be guaranteed for as long as you live. The actual amount of your pension is calculated with a combination of “years of service” credits and an additional percentage multiplier based on every dollar that goes into the fund on your behalf during qualifying years in your career. This multiplier creates the majority of your pension and the more you work the higher your eventual monthly pension will be.
All participants receive a yearly estimate of their eventual pension amount from the Fund office. A participant can also view their estimated pension and contribution history online. The Fund is separate and distinct from the Union office.
Defined Contribution Funds
United Scenic Artists 401k Plan
and IATSE National Annuity Fund
In this type of fund the Union Agreement defines the contribution going into the fund, but not the eventual benefit you receive. The amount of money in your USA829 401k or IATSE Annuity account when you retire, will depend on a combination of the amount of money that goes in and the choices you make among the possible investment funds. Two people with exactly the same earnings record can end with very different amounts in their account.
You are immediately vested in both of these funds and an account is established in your name. Participation involves investment of your money in the various choices provided by the Fund or Plan, and therefore contains an element of investment risk. Both funds are “self-directed” and provide an assortment of types of investments into which you direct your money. You can go on line and change your personal investment choices as often as you like.
When you reach retirement age you decide how fast to payout the accumulated money, and once you spend it, it is gone. It is never too early to think about your retirement and participating from the start of your career can have a tremendous impact on the growth of your investments.
Local 829 401(k) Retirement Plan
The 401k Plan is designed to provide an opportunity to save and invest for retirement. If an individual elects to become a Plan participant, they can defer any amount of covered W-2 wages up to the annual federally mandated statutory dollar limit, the “cap”, which is currently $18,000. Some Agreements, primarily scenic shops, also provide for the employer to “match” a participant’s contribution. Each individual must take the initiative to start 401k participation by submitting the proper 401(K) FORMS, which can be downloaded. Quarterly statements are sent from Vanguard which is where participants manage their investments as well, by registering for an account on their website.
IATSE National Annuity Fund
The required contributions are made solely by the employer and are in addition to wages. This contribution may be a percentage of gross income or a daily fixed dollar amount. Participants do not have to sign up for this. If the agreement requires contributions the employer must make them. Once contributions are received by the fund, the participant will receive information and then quarterly statements from Wells Fargo which is the custodian.