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Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

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Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:09 pm

A significant article about something I wasn't aware was happening concerning Lucasfilm and Pixar.

This is from AWN, the report coming from our buddy Dan Sarto...

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Lucasfilm Reaches Hiring Practice Settlement with Justice Department

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 2:28 pm | AWN News

From a Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs Press Release

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with Lucasfilm Ltd. that prevents it from entering into agreements restraining employee recruitment. The department said that the agreement between Lucasfilm and Pixar eliminated important forms of competition to attract highly skilled employees and, overall, significantly diminished competition to the detriment of affected employees who were likely deprived of information and access to better job opportunities.

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust complaint today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, along with a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit.

Today’s complaint arose out of a larger investigation by the Antitrust Division into employment practices by high tech companies. In September 2010, the Antitrust Division reached a settlement with Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Intuit Inc. and Pixar that prevented the companies from entering into no solicitation agreements for employees.

According to today’s complaint, Lucasfilm and Pixar agreed not to cold call each other’s employees; agreed to notify each other when making an offer to an employee of the other company; and agreed, when offering a position to the other company’s employee, not to counteroffer with compensation above the initial offer.

The department said that Pixar is not a named defendant in today’s complaint because the relief the department obtained in the previous settlement is sufficient to prevent Pixar from entering into these types of agreements.

"The agreement between Lucasfilm and Pixar restrained competition for digital animators without any procompetitive justification and distorted the competitive process," said Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. "The proposed settlement resolves the department’s antitrust concerns."

The digital animation sector faces strong demand for employees with advanced or specialized skills. A principal means by which digital animation companies recruit these employees is their direct solicitation, referred to as "cold calling." Savvy employees can use these companies’ tactics to extract multiple rounds of bidding, thus increasing their eventual salaries. These forms of competition, when unrestrained, result in better career opportunities, the department said.

The complaint alleges that the companies’ actions reduced their ability to compete for digital animation workers and interfered with the proper functioning of the price-setting mechanism that otherwise would have prevailed in competition for employees. None of the agreements was limited by geography, job function, product group or time period.

The proposed settlement, which if accepted by the court will be in effect for five years, prohibits the companies from engaging in anticompetitive agreements relating to employee hiring and retention. Although the complaint alleges only that the companies agreed to certain practices, the proposed settlement more broadly prohibits the companies from entering, maintaining or enforcing any agreement that in any way prevents any person from soliciting, cold calling, recruiting or otherwise competing for employees. The companies will also implement compliance measures tailored to these practices.

Lucasfilm Ltd. is a California corporation with its principal place of business in San Francisco.

The proposed settlement, along with the department’s competitive impact statement, will be published in The Federal Register, as required by the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to James J. Tierney, Chief, Networks & Technology Enforcement Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street N.W., Suite 7100, Washington D.C. 20530. At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the final judgment upon a finding that it serves the public interest.

...............

Read AWN Article here.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Greg B » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:06 am

LOL!

It's good to see the CG animators growing in value. Just when the 2D animators got hammered the CG animators are taking the charge toward high salaries for animators.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:21 pm

What this is in regards to folks, in case there's confusion as to the nature of the settlement...

It seems that for some time now ILM and Pixar and other high end studios have been in communication concerning hiring away each other's employees when it comes to CG animators and other CGI talent.

What they're trying to do is keep salaries from increasing by telling each other who they're trying to hire away and how much they're offering. In essence, the studios involved are letting each other know what they're paying for their talent and are in collusion in keeping artists from getting better pay somewhere else. By working with each other, the studios can stay on top of the situation and as such, keep things from getting competitive for artists by monitoring offers from each other.

The Justice Department settlement is an attempt to discontinue this practice and let the free market dictate what CGI artists should get paid, not studios executives who conspire with each other to keep this from happening.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:20 pm

Don't be complacent! And if you've learned to be complacent, then learn to be proactive.

The Animation Guild is all worked up about this matter.

So if you want to do something about it, head on over to their blog and read what they have to say and what they're willing to do for artists that've been affected.

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/ ... -help.html

Because the Guild doesn't discriminate, especially when it comes to opportunities for them to get their asses in gear and make it seem like they're actually doing something besides deleting links from their blog to sites that've supported them for years.

Chase that caravan!

Good luck guys, hope that something positive can come out of it.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:25 pm

JusticeDepartment.jpg

Here's the official announcement from the US Department of Justice dated December 21, 2010. The same day Dan Sarto reported on it at AWN and the same day I published his article on AN.

Click here.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:23 am

You know what would be great?

Really really inspiring to the animation community in general, and to the next generation of artists gearing up for animation?

To actually have artists from Pixar and ILM stand up and do something.

Like confront this issue.

But I'm not betting on it. I don't think we'll ever see these guys do anything that would remotely resemble a concerted show of strength and influence, but I'm always open to surprises and being proven wrong.

Where are the leaders? Where in the world are the leaders of animation?

It's difficult for me to refrain from what I really want to say. Are you guys as gutless as you are talented? Don't want to get on Johnny's or Georgie's bad side? Don't want to upset the executives who've been colluding behind your backs and playing you for first class chumps?

The US Justice Department saw this as enough of an issue to get involved, yet it appears as if it's asking too much for the top artists in the field, especially the ones who've been affected by this, to do the same.

Complacency isn't the word for it. I really don't know what is.

Maybe the resolution by the US DOJ is enough for them. Maybe it was an animation artist that discovered what was going on and brought it to the attention of the government. I don't know, but I want to be inspired by the artists that I and many others in this biz look up to.

I want to be inspired by strong artists, by people in our field that have the courage to make a stand that is as strong as the skills and talent they have, and time after time I deal with the disappointment of a gutless business. You rule the box office, but you're the underlings in your own home.

Anyway, don't worry about it. There's more important issues at stake. Like voting for the Annies. Remember, you have to qualify and be approved to vote by a group that aren't artists.

And don't forget to be led in the conversation by fanboys.

And keep looking to your unions for help, cuz you'll really find it there, especially when you consistently fail to involve yourselves.

I know these are difficult times, and nobody wants to risk their livelihood, and I'm sure most artists at those studios enjoy working there even if they're being screwed, but I wish the day would come when animation artists show that they've got some grit.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:46 pm

This Pixar movie inspired me. It inspired me enough to start AN.


Remember "A Bug's Life"?


Here's the setup...




And here's what the ants did...




It was a good film. Made people think about things. But that was a long time ago. I think if they ever made a sequel to this film, and based it upon the allegory of grasshoppers and ants and what's happening today, would the grasshoppers win?
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:36 pm

The more I follow this affair, the more surreal it becomes.

Read this commentary by Steve Hulett, the Business Representative of The Animation Guild:

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/ ... ou-on.html

Incredible.

A comment apparently from someone at ILM posted on the Guild's blog earlier concerning this matter, mentioned that they asked for help from this local a year ago and they were ignored. They weren't getting the help they needed from their own union, which as I understand is the same union as the Guild, just a different local, and The Animation Guild let them down.

And here's Hulett, telling a story about how he was labeled a "troublemaker" and a "union bad boy" by Disney cuz he let the word get out about a significant layoff the company was planing in 2007.

Seems to me that's what this guy does best. Covering his ass.

I witnessed how he treated artists at a union meeting on September 30, 2008 and reported it on the AN Forums, then our link is taken off the Guild's blog. Guess he has as much trouble with troublemakers as the studios have with him.

That good ol double standard.

The Guild isn't going to do anything until they're in a position to keep themselves from looking bad. That's about the only thing that motivates them.

The Studios will continue to look for ways to keep the sheep in line.

There's only one way to go folks.

We gotta depend on each other and we gotta be brave enough to step forward individually and collectively. This entire industry plays us for fools. It's not gonna change until we stop behaving foolishly.

Don't be so damn passive. Get involved.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Greg B » Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:19 am

Glad you mentioned "A Bug's Life" Charles.

It was that movie that showed me what CGI animators could really do.

The scene where Kevin Spacey's character Hopper confronts the princess is priceless. It's one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. It's a standard in excellence in my book.

Years ago in comics when talent would rise up, it would change the industry. Companies couldn't manufacture talent. Every other year some new artist would pop up that shook things up.

Animation is different because there are so many people who take part in a film that the artist has to share the spotlight with hundreds of people.

I've been inundated with job offers for CGI people especially for the video game industry. When people saw how much money Batman: Arkham Asylum, Half Life 2, and of course Call of Duty: Black Ops made there are investors piling up at the door. Black Ops scared the heck out of Hollywood and the entertainment community. It shows that story, great animation, technical wizardry and sheer guts can do.

It's going to be hard for movie companies to keep their CGI people if the video game market expands. Reason being a great CGI artist can make stacks of more money if they work on the right game than they could ever make at a movie studio.

If the artists got together and funded their own video games they'd be in clover for the rest of their lives.

It's literally more fun to play the video game than watch the movie nowadays says I. More interactive and cheaper and loads more entertaining.

This is a time where artists in the CGI field could make a stand. They've got enough power and there's no threat from younger artists coming in to take their places as the skills that make a great artist in pencil or oils are the same skills and qualities that make a great CGI artist.

Again, this will be an interesting event to watch as it could well change the face of commercial art, animation, and more.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:58 pm

I talked about this issue with some animation students last night and I was surprised to find out how few of them were aware of this issue, ad even fewer realized the scope and importance of it.

For the US Department of Justice to intervene it has to be extremely serious. For the government to get off its duff and actually take action, a situation has to be serious enough to be a real problem.

The collusion that's been going on with the studios has likely been happening for a long time and I really doubt that this will change anything. I think there'll be some token observance but I don't believe it's going to end.

Artists really need to be on top of this and communicate with each other. They need to communicate with each other as effectively as studio executives and studio management.

This is a prime example of what can happen within our community when we go around in factions and cliques, and why education, unity and some level of cooperation is so important.

The Animation Guild and the unions are not going to do anything. If they did they would have done it by now. The fan organizations and the bloggers aren't going top do anything. They're incapable of it and they would rather side with the studios than with the artists in my opinion.

We really need to get together everyone, but I'm afraid it's not going to happen. I wish I could foster some optimism, but artists just don't care or they're afraid or they just don't want to be bothered or they don't want to jeopardize their situations.

The solution, at least in part, is in communication.

If anyone knows the history behind this, how the US DOJ found out and what prompted their action, any info along those lines would be appreciated. If there's something on the Web please post a link here or send it to us please. It would help.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby Charles » Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:17 pm

To underscore just how ill informed our community is, check this out. It's an article dated September 24, 2010 and it deals with the settlement between the US Department of Justice and several big names in entertainment and technology, including Pixar.

According to this article, the collusion has been going on since at least May, 2005.

..................

Apple, Google, Adobe, Pixar, others settle with DOJ over anti-competitive hiring

The DOJ did what it does and told Apple and others (Adobe Systems Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Intuit Inc. and Pixar) to stop entering into anti-competitive agreements with other high tech companies. The agreements between the companies limited recruiters from each company from cold calling employees at the other companies, amongst other things.


JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REQUIRES SIX HIGH TECH COMPANIES TO STOP ENTERING INTO ANTICOMPETITIVE EMPLOYEE SOLICITATION AGREEMENTS

Settlement Preserves Competition for High Tech Employees

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached a settlement with six high technology companies–Adobe Systems Inc., Apple Inc., Google Inc., Intel Corp., Intuit Inc. and Pixar–that prevents them from entering into no solicitation agreements for employees. The department said that the agreements eliminated a significant form of competition to attract highly skilled employees, and overall diminished competition to the detriment of affected employees who were likely deprived of competitively important information and access to better job opportunities.

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust complaint today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, along with a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the six companies entered into agreements that restrained competition between them for highly skilled employees. The agreements between Apple and Google, Apple and Adobe, Apple and Pixar and Google and Intel prevented the companies from directly soliciting each other’s employees. An agreement between Google and Intuit prevented Google from directly soliciting Intuit employees.

“The agreements challenged here restrained competition for affected employees without any procompetitive justification and distorted the competitive process,” said Molly S. Boast, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The proposed settlement resolves the department’s antitrust concerns with regard to these no solicitation agreements.”

In the high technology sector, there is a strong demand for employees with advanced or specialized skills, the department said. One of the principal means by which high tech companies recruit these types of employees is to solicit them directly from other companies in a process referred to as, “cold calling.” This form of competition, when unrestrained, results in better career opportunities, the department said.

According to the complaint, the companies engaged in a practice of agreeing not to cold call any employee at the other company. The complaint indicates that the agreements were formed and actively managed by senior executives of these companies.

The complaint alleges that the companies’ actions reduced their ability to compete for high tech workers and interfered with the proper functioning of the price-setting mechanism that otherwise would have prevailed in competition for employees. None of the agreements was limited by geography, job function, product group or time period. Thus, they were broader than reasonably necessary for any collaboration between the companies, the department said.

The department said in its complaint:

Beginning no later than 2006, Apple and Google executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. Apple placed Google on its internal “Do Not Call List,” which instructed employees not to directly solicit employees from the listed companies. Similarly, Google listed Apple among the companies that had special agreements with Google and were part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list;

Beginning no later than May 2005, senior Apple and Adobe executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. Apple placed Adobe on its internal “Do Not Call List” and similarly, Adobe included Apple in its internal list of “Companies that are off limits”;

Beginning no later than April 2007, Apple and Pixar executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. Apple placed Pixar on its internal “Do Not Call List” and senior executives at Pixar instructed human resources personnel to adhere to the agreement and maintain a paper trail;

Beginning no later than September 2007, Google and Intel executives agreed not to cold call each other’s employees. In its hiring policies and protocol manual, Google listed Intel among the companies that have special agreements with Google and are part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list. Similarly, Intel instructed its human resources staff about the existence of the agreement; and

In June 2007, Google and Intuit executives agreed that Google would not cold call any Intuit employee. In its hiring policies and protocol manual, Google also listed Intuit among the companies that have special agreements with Google and are part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list.

The proposed settlement, which if accepted by the court will be in effect for five years, prohibits the companies from engaging in anticompetitive no solicitation agreements. Although the complaint alleges only that the companies agreed to ban cold calling, the proposed settlement more broadly prohibits the companies from entering, maintaining or enforcing any agreement that in any way prevents any person from soliciting, cold calling, recruiting, or otherwise competing for employees. The companies will also implement compliance measures tailored to these practices.

Today’s complaint arose out of a larger investigation by the Antitrust Division into employment practices by high tech firms. The division continues to investigate other similar no solicitation agreements.

Adobe Systems Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in San Jose, Calif., and 2009 revenues of nearly $3 billion. Apple Inc. is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Cupertino, Calif., and 2009 revenues of more than $42 billion. Google Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Mountain View, Calif., and 2009 revenues of more than $23 billion. Intel Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Santa Clara, Calif., and 2009 revenues of more than $35 billion. Intuit Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Mountain View, Calif., and 2009 revenues more than $3 billion. Pixar is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Emeryville, Calif.

The proposed settlement, along with the department’s competitive impact statement, will be published in The Federal Register, as required by the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed settlement within 60 days of its publication to James J. Tierney, Chief, Networks & Technology Enforcement Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street N.W., Suite 7100, Washington D.C. 20530. At the conclusion of the 60-day comment period, the court may enter the final judgment upon a finding that it serves the public interest.



Read article here.
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Re: Pixar & Lucasfilm & US Justice Dept settle hiring issue

Postby SNAKEBITE » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:06 am

I think topics like this would be fantastic if started by video entry. Reading your stuff is powerful, but when you hear the man speak it penetrates the soul and leaves less open to be misinterpreted.

I remember one of my first points I made on this board is the irony of how all these artists continually work on story concepts like the Bugs Life which is about fighting against oppression...but challenge them to do the same and they scoff..or have some backwards political speak, like Union reps.

So many complacent people. Don't want to do anything until it happens to them directly and by then its too late.

Man, I'm glad I came to realizations about this industry early on in my path.
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