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Union organizing in New Zealand on "Hobbit" fails big

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Union organizing in New Zealand on "Hobbit" fails big

Postby Charles » Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:36 am

They tried, but between Warner Bros, the New Zealand government, and popular support to the contrary, entertainment workers on "Hobbit" suffered major setbacks in their attempt to organize.


Analysis: How the Guilds Lost the "Hobbit" War:
The Hollywood Reporter
November 8, 2010

Will entertainment workers of the world unite? Probably not any time soon.

They just tried, and it blew up in their faces.

The two-month Hobbit affair in New Zealand began with local actors attempting to organize the film and ended with a smackdown from U.S.-based Warner Bros., which extracted an additional $25 million in incentives from the island nation and secured passage of antiunion legislation, apparently negotiated directly between the government and key Warners executives including New Line president Toby Emmerich and Warners Home Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara.

As labor leaders (including SAG, which boycotted in solidarity) withdrew under a barrage of negative publicity and even death threats, they were left to wonder: what went wrong?

Just about everything:

· The local union, New Zealand Actors Equity (NZAE), never made clear to the public why it was trying to organize the production. Were working conditions the issue? Pay rates? Residuals? There was never a detailed or consistent answer.

· Early on, a key legal issue arose: Could actors be engaged as employees rather than independent contractors? The union never developed a clear response to this question, instead focusing on odd stopgaps for protecting actors engaged as independent contractors.

· NZAE failed to develop significant support from local actors. A planned meeting -- canceled due to a counter-demonstration -- was expected to draw only about 90 attendees. Meanwhile, meetings and rallies of industry workers, including actors, who opposed the union¹s actions attracted thousands.

Click here to learn more.


Thanks to The Entertainment Economy Institute for the story.

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Re: Union organizing in New Zealand on "Hobbit" fails big

Postby paburrows » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:38 am

Im kind of glad that they failed because from every report that I've heard the workers had been paid fairly well and that this was a rare case of the union being to full of itself and its own power. Plus this means that the Hobbit can finally see the light of day after everyone and their dog fighting over it.
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