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Author Topic: Guild Improvements
John Mango
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In the Neo Pets post several people asked what improvements could be made to the Guild. So here it is. Post your ideas and sugestions to improve what the Guild is doing.
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Kevin
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John, you seemed to have a lot of criticisms, yet you don't seem to have any actual improvements in mind. Is this just meant to be a pointless rag session?
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John Mango
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Not at all Kevin. I think my veiw are pretty clear from my other posts. I wanted to let other people post their ideas first befor I put in my two cents. Thats why I started this new post.
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q
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Well, okay. Here's a low level suggestion... Perhaps notes of the executive board meetings could be posted at the website for Members of the guild to read,,,, so members can see what the immediate issues are.

I've been a guild member since 1982 or 83. I know people have filed grievances and such, but I have absolutely NO IDEA what a single grievance was ever about...Okay i know bout ONE( I heard (Studio shall remain Unamed) had to deal with somebody not wanting to work in a room where the rain flooded the carpet and their allergies were driving them crazy, and the union had to intervene to persuade that studio to provide working conditions that did not stink and provoke allergies.)

Well, in today's market it seems the studios have dealt with "working conditions" issues by adhering to the freelancer model where artists have to provide our own facilites, computers, legal software licenses, paper, pencils, heat, ac, etc...all for a flat rate that could barely be considered a wage. It's "Freelance" now. Or the next stop is Tiawan. Where fewer complaints are sure to arise.

(I know I am open to admonishmnet for not attending the union meetings....)

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"Thank you. And bring it on."

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ClosetAni1
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I liked Kevin's appearance on CNN, much too short but the right kind of effort. What if the union gave the state of things for their members more of the bad press it deserves? Too often it comes as a surprise to the public how and where their cartoons are getting made.

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www.scooterandferret.com

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Kevin
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q, you can go by the office and read the meeting minutes. We've been leery about putting either Gen. Membership minutes or E-Board minutes on the website, because there tends to be confidential information and material we'd rather not find it's way to the studios. Even if we put it on the website's members-only section, we'd have little control of the info.

That said, there's no reason we can't put edited versions of the minutes on the web site. I'll propose it at tonight's E-Board meeting.

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Kevin
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ClosetAni, I'm always torn between emphasizing the glass as half empty, or half full. I tend to try to find the bright side of things, and I think it takes an emotional toll on us to primarily harp on how terrible things are.
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ClosetAni1
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I can agree with that, I have a tendency to dive into a deep depression myself. This is more of an issue about information though. Talk with anyone who hasn't spent any time on this board, or at least aren't part of the system, and they are shocked to find out that most of the cartoon work they're seeing out there is not done here. Worse, I'm constantly having to break this news to students. Public opinion is not with us, and at least part of that is because they don't know. More of what you did with CNN, getting the word out, would surely be good for the union and could only help not hurt. People shouldn't have to google my two-bit blog to find out about animation outsourcing.

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Ray Pointer
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I am waiting for the list of improvements. So far I havent' seen any.

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Ray Pointer

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Kevin
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ClosetAni, I completely agree with you about getting the truth out to the public. The biggest problem is that the media outlets tend to have a herd mentality, and are fairly selective about what they find worthwhile as stories. Five years ago you couldn't get a journalist interested in animation outsourcing. You only saw years of the stupid "is 2d dead" or "isn't 3d amazing" articles. Now that outsourcing and Eisner are big stories, we've had a spate of very good newspaper, radio, and (to a lesser extent) TV reporting of what's happening in our industry. Now that the word is getting out there, I hope the next step will be some real progress on the political front.
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Kevin
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q, we passed a motion last night at the Executive Board meeting to start putting the meeting minutes on the members-only section of our website. This will be a 'redacted' version of the minutes, so we can protect the identities of anyone involved in a grievance and keep private material that would not serve our needs if it was copied and disseminated.

Hopefully this will let people get more involved in Guild business from the comforts of home, and let people better understand the range of behind-the-scenes matters the union deals with on a regular basis.

Thanks for the great suggestion!

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John Mango
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A couple of other people have brought this up in other posts, and I fully agree. I would like to see the union set up an apprenticeship program. That way younger artists can learn hands on from industry veterans.

I would really like a welcome package about the union to be given to the new members when they join. I know we get sent the contract, and our union card. We also get the pledege that we are suppose to hold up our hand and recite. LAME! Most of the literature reads like and is all in legalese and put me to sleep. A good over view of all the things the union offers, our rights as artists, that sort of thing, writen so a tenth grader can read and understand it.

I think another improvement would be to have a workspace studio set up for personal projects. That way members have a place to go to work if they don't have the tools at home. I'd sugest a few regular flat tables and a bunch of animation desks, and disks. The members have to bring their own paper, pencils, clay, what have you.

Another way I think the union could improve is by opening up union membership. If artists at non-union studios could join support and leverage would grow. These artist could pay the union dues and inisiation fees, slightly less than normal, and in return they could get full access to everything the union offers. Except, they wouldn't get the retirement IAP and DBP, since the studios pay money into that, but they should be able to invest in the union's 401K plan, since it is the artists' own money anyway. The health care would also probably need to be reduced. Maybe just basic heathcare, with maybe the artist paying half for dental and vison, and the union paying the other half.

To add to this, I think if artists could continue membership after they've been laid off from a union job, this would also help bolster morale. I'm not sure if artists even have to leave the union once they are no longer at a union studio. I'm sure Steve can clear that up for me.

I think one huge way to improve the union is but improving it's image. I've always gotten an 'sneaky, us-vs-them feeling from the IATSE ad that I always see in Animation Magazine. I always think the horse is wearing a burglar outfit, but I know he's a beatnik. I think a freindlier image of the union would help out. The ad could mention health, retirement, and all the other good benifts it offers. Also, advertisments in more magazines too. Run ads in all the computer animation magazines, art magazines, hell, even Maxim. I know several issues are floating around our studio.

More functions would also be cool to see. Functions like screenings of Academy nominated animated shorts. Talks with animation greats. Hosting art shows. Events that would entice new members to join, and bring old members back.

I nice thing to have on the union website would be a page about what the union has done in the past. Like the work it has done to secure artists the benifits we get today. That sort of thing.

I would also like to see the Union get more pollitically involved. Working with Senators and Congressmen to help the US animation industry. Maybe take a few ques from our nieghbors to the north, where they require certain amounts of progaming to be made in Canada. Get government subsidies for animation studios in the US that are doing animation in the US and NOT shipping the work overseas.

Please correct me if the Union is already doing these things. Or if they did and are no longer, maybe we can figure out why they didn't work.

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Kevin
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Thanks, John, for the suggestions. Here are my thoughts:

I would like to see the union set up an apprenticeship program. That way younger artists can learn hands on from industry veterans.

Local 839 established the American Animation Institute years ago, when skilled traditional animators were retiring, to keep the craft alive. Back then Cal Arts was about the only other training, anywhere. The AAI is still active, but it's a classroom setup.

An actual apprenticeship program is more complicated. First, you need something on which to work. You can't apprentice in a meaningful way outside of a studio environment. (Well, you could, but it would involve the industry vet giving away many hours of free, one-on-one tutoring, and I don't think there'd be many volunteers.)

Within the studio system, we do have apprentice positions in many job categories. Check it out in the CBA booklet. It's up to the studios to use them. At DreamWorks we recently hired four people fresh out of school as apprentices, and they were hooked up with mentors. Unfortunately, most studios now want everything done yesterday, and don't seem too keen on taking the time for apprentices.

I would really like a welcome package about the union to be given to the new members when they join.

You're absolutely right, and this is something I started on and put aside when I got busy at work. It will get done, and hopefully will help get people started off having a better idea of what the Guild provides.

I think another improvement would be to have a workspace studio set up for personal projects.

We just got our CG lab up and running, which will do that for 3d work. The workspace requirements for traditional work are so minimal that I'm not sure we need it for 2d, but if members let us know they want it . . .

Another way I think the union could improve is by opening up union membership. If artists at non-union studios could join support and leverage would grow.

This one is more complicated, and I'll leave that for Steve or Jeff.

To add to this, I think if artists could continue membership after they've been laid off from a union job, this would also help bolster morale.

Membership does continue after you're laid off. Once you're a member, you're always a member. While your health benefits through the union will eventually run out, virtually all other benefits of Guild membership continue, even if you're on honorable withdrawal.

I think one huge way to improve the union is but improving it's image.

Agreed. The biggest problem in doing more here is coming up with implementable ideas that will accomplish the goal. The Guild's image comes not only from the top, and also from each and every member.

More functions would also be cool to see.

Yes, and that would also help with the image thing. To our credit I think we've probably tripled the number of functions we've sponsored over the last few years. The biggest impediment here is organizing those events. A few of us were planning a big animator art show/charity auction, but it was another project that got put on the back burner because we were just too busy.

There are a handful of members, most of whom are staff or executive board members, who do 95% of the work of planning and executing these events. If you and some friends have a good idea for a function, make a plan and come to a meeting to propose it, and there's a good chance you'll get the backing to make it happen. Seriously, I would love to see the Guild out there doing more fun and interesting events.

I nice thing to have on the union website would be a page about what the union has done in the past.

A major website renovation is in progress. Suggestions are welcome. (By the way, have you read Sito's union history material on the site?)

I would also like to see the Union get more pollitically involved.

Our parent uion, the IATSE, is very politically active, and we weigh in as we're able (the IA has well over 100,000 members, so they do have some clout). On a local level, it does get complicated -- we have some members who are very vocal about the Guild not supporting specific candidates, and not making political contributions.

As for the likelihood of getting American subsidies, I think in our current political climate, and with our current out-of-control deficit (both state and federal), subsidies aren't likely.


These are some good suggestions, John, and they're appreciated. I encourage you to get involved and help make some of them happen. And you don't even need to get agreement from the executive board. Bring a proposal to a general membership meeting, make a motion, get it passed by the members present, and your motion becomes official Guild policy. It happens all the time. It really is your organization

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