Just under seven months after Sony essentially sold Colorworks to Deluxe, the postproduction giant is about to face the power of the ballot. The Motion Picture Editors Guild has called a unionization election for late this week for the approximately 30 workers at the former Colorworks facility on the Culver City lot. The about 70 Sony Colorworks staffers were covered under a union deal before the studio closed the unit and entered “a services agreement” with Deluxe as part of a multimillion-dollar deal in early February.
— MPEG (Editors Guild) (@MPEG700) August 31, 2015
The sleight of hand “semi-exclusive” deal, as it was termed at the time, meant that Sony did not formally sell the 14,000-square-foot facility to Duluxe, the production, postproduction, distribution and asset management services provider. That nuance freed Deluxe of any successor employee responsibilities — especially union contracts. Inklings of Sony’s desire to rid itself of Colorworks and its union deal were revealed in last year’s hacking of the studio and the release of corporate correspondence.
When it happened, it happened fast.
Within weeks of taking over the former Colorworks on February 1, Deluxe let everyone go. They promptly hired back about half of the former staff but this time with no union agreement. For a sense of how unwelcome union contracts are at Deluxe, the company only has an IATSE contact at one other facility – its Level 3 Post outlet in Burbank.
If successful, as it is widely presumed to be, the election move on the Sony lot would lead to negotiations between Deluxe and the guild over an IATSE contract that would see benefits like health and pension returned to the employees. The Labor Board-mandated election would take place September 2 with certification to follow a few days later.
While the two sides have been unable to come to a deal informally so far and sources tell me that they expect the talks to not be easy, they also say that Sony will now likely encourage Deluxe to come to an agreement. Recently a letter was distributed around the Culver City lot informing employees of the efforts to re-unionize the former Colorworks unit — that letter hinted that already IATSE=covered Sony employees may be asked to participate in a future labor action if necessary.