Still trying to clarify things

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Posted by Kevin on March 11, 2000 at 01:02:55:

In Reply to: Adventures with SNAKEBITE posted by SNAKEBITE on March 10, 2000 at 01:03:16:

: Well "K" if it doesn't make sense to you, its probably wrong...What you stated was not what I had said, again ,I can only speak from experience and believe me when it was goin down I wasn't there sayin "Well that makes sense", I was quite upset, I had completed sample pages, time was invested. I was told that the company had a contract with the Union limiting there employees to Union members only,

I'm not disagreeing about what you were told, I'm just saying that as far as I know the above information does NOT apply to studios covered by the MPSC 839 contract. Union studios can hire ANYONE they want. The catch is, when the employee has been there 30 days, they are automatically entered into the union. So in that sense the studio only has union employees, but it does NOT have to hire only union people. I think somebody was feeding you a line.

:Now Im not sayin that this is valid, only what I was told. Besides, a individual does not need a union job to be a union member.Some people join in hopes of employment and solid representation, they pay dues for months before job opportunities arrise

Is this really true? Do you know anyone who joined 839 without ever having a union job? If you look at the union material, which is also on their website, and read the part that says "How do I join the union?", is says clearly that you join simply by getting a job at a union studio. There's no other way to do it as far as I can see. Check it out(http//

:what do they get for those dues?, where does that money go?

You mean aside from the well known benefits like excellent health care and pension benefits? There's also the training at extremely low cost through the AAI (and a few years ago, before the boom was so obvious, this was about the only place outside of Cal Arts to get real animation training).

:, are portfolio reviews set up for members?

In a sense, yes. Before I was in the union I had my portfolio reviewed by instructors at the union sponsored AAI classes. Since all union members have (or recently had) union jobs, this really isn't an issue for an active member. Once you're a union member, you're going to have enough connections to get your portfolio reviewed ad nauseum.

:, does the Union make sure artists are getting paid by the "industry standards"?

Absolutely 100% of the time. Minimum salaries are the easiest thing to enforce in the world. If you want to get paid above the union minimum, then that's up to you to negotiate. Gotta stand on your own two feet there. I also know the union got wind recently that studios were putting drawing quotas on artists that were geared towards the faster artists and were forcing some artists to do unpaid overtime to keep in good graces. Steve H. started making multiple unannounced visits at odd hours and asked plenty of people I know if they were being compensated for staying late. He knows that there are a lot of sheep out there, and he wasn't waiting for these people to come forward on their own. There are other examples I could give where the union went to bat for artists and got results that could not have been gotten at a non-union house.

:These are not rhetorical questions,let me know, call me ignorant but i don't see these things.

Not to sound silly, but how would you see those things if you weren't in a union studio?

:Some tell me that the union has a publication of some sort,

It's called The Pegbar. I subscribed before I was in the union because I found it to have a lot of useful info. It's also available (a little later) for free online at the union website. And I absolutely agree with Charles that the union should be sending the Pegbar out for free to every animator in town.

: maybe a flyer of studios that are hiring, I can get the same info via magazines and the internet. Maybe Unions should be like an agency...they get paid if we get paid,

That's exactly how it works. You get hired in a union studio, and over the course of the first year you pay them the equivalent of two weeks salary. The subsequent dues are rather small, and can be suspended if you're out of work for awhile.

: in other words if they want their money make them work for it, find us stability and if you can't, let me know so I can go some where else or do it my damn self...Look, the reality of the situation is that we have a Union with a no stike clause...thats messed up...I have friends in the truck drivin industry, construction,etc etc and when i vent to them about the state here,and for the most part it dosen't surprise them, the more things change the more they stay the same, but they are totally thrown back by that one can a UNION have a no strike clause...

I think actually we have a no strike meeting clause, or some such. I think the union can strike, but they're restricted in how readily they can threaten it. I agree this should be done away with, but I don't think for a second that calling for a strike would do anything but accelerate work leaving LA. Besides, how do you strike for the things I hear you complaining about. "Hey, Disney and DreamWorks and WB, we're striking unless you promise us more job stability!" This would be exactly the nightmare stance that people like Jon worry about. The entertainment industry doesn't have real stability anywhere. No union, even powerful ones out here like SAG and the Writers Guild and DGA, can get that for their members. In the first two of the above unions, the VAST majority of members are out of work at any one time. Those unions know to fight for what they can and deal with the rest. Our union could use improving but yelling strike every time a studio downsizes won't accomplish a thing.
As for the union "earning" their way by getting members jobs, how would that work. If I ran a studio, one of my biggest nightmares would be the union telling me who I could and couldn't hire. "No, Kevin, we don't care that you want the best artists, you have to hire this union guy with the most seniority." Even as a union member I don't want that scenario.

:and why would you think that a non-union shop would be more reluctant to hire a Union member, thats the beauty of being independent, you could hire anyone.

I stated why, but I will again. Union members are probably more likely to sign rep cards that could force a non-union studio to become a union studio. Artists who have never been in the union are much less likely to do that. Hence, the owner of a non-union shop who wants to stay non-union might decide it's better to go with non-union employees. OTOH, the union shop couldn't care less. They hire you and now you're in the union, so it's no difference to them.

Snake, try checking out the 839 website. Read some of the Pegbars. See how the union actually operates. And don't always trust everything you hear. Half the union members I know don't have the first clue what the union can and cannot do. And that goes for about 90% of the nonunion artists I've met. The union isn't God, and it isn't Satan. It is part of the landscape, and it's worth knowing about.

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