An Open Letter from
Haskell Wexler to Bruce Doering

November 28, 2000

Editor
ICG Magazine
7715 Sunset Boulevard Suite 300
Hollywood, CA 90046

Dear Editor:

George Dibie’s Clearly Speaking in ICG is headed:

LONG HOURS AND FATIGUE ARE HAZARDOUS TO OUR LIVES

George asks us “to think about our family and friends this holiday season.” Three years after Brent’s death we are working longer and longer hours, more scheduled 16 hour Friday-Saturdays. More Lost Weekends. Ask assistant Jimmie Jensen’s wife and kids what that has meant. No other industry would consider a 12 or 14 hour day normal.

Three holiday seasons have passed since George said, “Brothers and sisters, Brent’s death must not be forgotten. It is time to take action.”

“Brent’s death should be a warning to all; it is not just one person’s safety .”

George’s concern for families has been consistent: “How many widows and parentless children must suffer before we decide to take action.”

There is strong basis to confirm George’s statements on the destructive nature of excessive hours.

Read: NASA AMES Research Center Fatigue Symposium.

Read: The Drop Dead Zone documenting “Sleep Depreciation Affects on Efficiency and Safety.”

Read: New York Times, September 17, 2000, about the death of Brent Churchill, another Brent victim of an expanding work week. The article shows a nationwide corporate assault on the family.

Medical research has demonstrated proper sleep is just as critical to human survival as food, water and air. There is no debate on the consequences of fatigue! In 1997 some producers admitted, “We are endangering not only the quality of work but health and safety.”

Before Brent’s Rule was relegated to luggage tags and eloquent rhetorical oblivion, members were asked to “document your experiences with long hours and to send a fax to Local 600. Join other IA Locals to stop this madness.” Word came down from Tom Short and the “madness” became not that “mad” because many of our members want to work those hours.

I was cautioned not to “get out ahead of the IA” as the hours question hurts IA negotiating. How sensible hours would hurt the IA was never explained. There was some rumbling about Canada. President Short did say he wants to work with the producers to “complete projects on budget and one time.” This was an early IA signal. Time will pass, we are on the same team. Our Local’s position against “the madness” was ordered to reverse thrust.

George asks individual members to take a stand against abusive hours. Be courageous this holiday season and “defend your family.” Does it make sense to ask members to put their livelihood at risk when we have an organization we pay to defend us, to speak for us?

Hours are not a natural “reality” or “fact of life” as George suggests. This is the producer’s “reality” which we are asked to accept but to lament in the name of our family and friends.

George had it right when he said, “The truth is that greedy corporations are putting profits ahead of people, routinely jeopardizing the safety and health of the crew and cast.”

Should we trust our union to protect and advance our wages if they are too timid to confront producers in behalf of our safety, our families, our very lives?

Sincerely, Haskell Wexler

IATSE Local 695 Production Sound Technicians, Television Engineers,
Video Assist Technicians and Studio Projectionists

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