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Author Topic: viacom slashes benefits
Ganklin
IE # 14
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so yesterday apparently viacom decided to slash their benefit packages and 401k to its freelancers...which is just about everyone staffed at nick digital.

they pulled a switcher-roo on the health care which to from what i hear isn't so great, and the 401k is NOT being matched anymore.

to me, this sounds like a breach of contract. i hear ther are people protesting this outside 1515 broadway as i type, but i dont know how much if any coverage it will get by the media

anyone know anything else?

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Ganklin
IE # 14
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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/11/business/media/11mtv.html?_r=4&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&o ref=slogin&oref=slogin

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Ganklin
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http://gawker.com/news/union!/viacom-walkout-2-mtv-shamed-into-hiding-their-times-square-v iew-332677.php

word of mouth is that the protests are already having an effect...rumors are already going that benefits and 401ks will go back to normal.

apparently, it was a major success.

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Doodles
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Given the massive black eye Viacom's already taking from the Writer's Strike, this was probably the last thing they wanted to have happen.
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Semaj
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Don't forget their self-inflicted grudge against YouTube. [Roll Eyes]
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Animation Co-op
IE # 295
Member # 3421

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quote:
so yesterday apparently viacom decided to slash their benefit packages and 401k to its freelancers...which is just about everyone staffed at nick digital.
The notion of paying a freelancer any sort of benefits always baffled us. In our day, a freelancer - a TRUE freelancer - was a hired gun who came in for short periods of time during crunch or for some specialized task, and at a higher rate than the staff (appproximately 30% or so) because as a true independent they were responsible for their own benefits.

Then some studios got the bright idea to staff almost their entire crew with so-called "freelancers" who are in reality just neutered staff. "Freelancers" asked to "bid" on a low weekly rate for all of the job insecurity with none of the benefits.

So the problem here should be recast more appropriately as: Viacom is passing its staff off as "freelancers", and cutting their benefits.

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Animation Co-op
IE # 295
Member # 3421

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Bottom line: if you're having taxes deducted from your paycheck... you're STAFF.
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Animation Co-op
IE # 295
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Just saw the protest video. Artists will get better treatment when they stop chanting "We Want Teeth", and start showing the teeth they already have.
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Jennifer Hachigian Jerrard
IE # 8
Member # 2280

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quote:
so yesterday apparently viacom decided to slash their benefit packages and 401k to its freelancers...which is just about everyone staffed at nick digital.

they pulled a switcher-roo on the health care which to from what i hear isn't so great, and the 401k is NOT being matched anymore.

to me, this sounds like a breach of contract. i hear ther are people protesting this outside 1515 broadway as i type, but i dont know how much if any coverage it will get by the media

anyone know anything else?

The TAG Blog had some words on this:

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/at-nickelodeon.html
http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/weekend-links-of-laboring-class.html
http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2007/12/new-york-viacommers-they-not-happy.html

From the first link, posted on December 06, 2007:

quote:
As many know, Viacom has rolled back pension, health and sick benefits for non-represented staff (by "non-represented" I mean non-union) at its various units around the country.

Earlier in the week, I had a meeting with H.R. about the changes. I know and like the Human Resource staff; rolling the changes out to affected employees was not among their happier experiences. But the decisions for the cuts were made higher up the food chain, and their job is to implement corporate policy, not argue...

The bad news for non-repped employees is that they'll be taking hits in their 401(k) plan, their health benefits, and the number of sick days they get. From what I've heard, nobody received the roll-backs with joy.

The good news for union employees (and this is mostly Local 839 people), nothing much changes. Their pension benefits are the same. The 401(k) is unaffected, and the number of sick days won't change for the duration of the current contract.

I feel badly for the corporate employees, as do Nick's H.R. folks. But companies do what companies do. Obviously keeping margins up takes priority here ...



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andim8
IE # 232
Member # 626

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if that was TAG s take on it...yikes. As stated earlier, more and more, corporations get away with having so called freelancers with little or no benefits. while this may not affect the few union employees, most of us freelancers are union employees who cant land a union job because of these practices. I'm glad they went out on the streets. About time artists push back.
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Animation Co-op
IE # 295
Member # 3421

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Message to non-union "freelancers": start signing those rep cards!

The rugged individuals who like to "cut their own deals" more often see their benefits cut.

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Kevin
IE # 44
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Just to clarify, Andim8, that quote is Steve Hulett's take on things, not TAG's. Though I think it's safe to say that most everyone in TAG agrees that it sucks big time.

And, as Kevin G. points out, that's the reality of non-union corporate benefits -- unless you have it in your personal service agreement, those benefits can be reduced/changed/eliminated at any time. It's that kind of nonsense that lead Film Roman staff to boil over and go union a few years ago.

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Dayna
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Interesting article on the ongoing situation:

Permalancers, Unite! - Yahoo! News

http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20071213/cm_thenation/20071231kamenetz

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Charles
Administrator
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Viacom isn't profitable enough and Sumner Redstone doesn't make enough money. The monkey keeps pushing the envelope with ever more audacious employment practices until it gets to the point where people are finally motivated to stand up and confront the situation.

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