This Union Situation

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Posted by Jon on March 04, 2000 at 23:08:32:

OK, so this Animation Expo is over and I am TOTALLY blown away with the talent running around unemployed in this town. All these sparky young artists with incredible talent, but all looking half-crazed with fear because they're up against experienced veterans who are ALSO out of work.

People kept coming up to me and saying, "So I hear you're opening a studio here in LA." And I say, politely, "Well, no, I've just opened an OFFICE here, but our studio is back in Chicago." And half of them would respond, "You should open one here! I'd work for you!"

As tempted as I am to think that it's all about ME and my great studio, I know it's just that people need a job! One more studio in town means one more chance to be hired.

So I get to thinking, "Who knows?" Because with our current workload, we are pretty much swamped. But if we got another job in, rather than turn it away, we could, you know, maybe open up a branch studio ...

But now I'm looking at this piece of literature I picked up at the Union Booth. It's entitled "How to Use a Rep Card."

It's supposed to be sort of a take-off on the old World War 2 army training films.

The first panel shows a happy soldier looking at a card he has taken out of his Ammunition Box. The literature goes on to explain "This is a standard issue MPSC 839 Union Authorization Representation Card."

It goes on, instructing you to sneak it into your place of employment ("... keep it ... until you have accepted a job at a non-union studio ..."), never show it to your boss (who is depicted as Hitler - no joke), then fill it out and sign it, persuade all your buddies to do the same.

The happy ending is Hitler shoots himself, and the proud soldier rides triumphantly away on a tank, holding up a fist of victory.

The victory this soldier won is a dead boss. But the truth is, Hitler didn't use real bullets and he is simply sending the work overseas now.

First of all, I don't think anybody should work for less than he wants to get, but getting something is better than nothing. As an employer, why would I want to deal with that kind of mentality? This is sick, my fellow animators. This is the hand that feeds you! How on earth will this militant, destructive attitude ever help turn this industry around?

I was at the TV Animation Process Seminar. The jobs explained were (and I'm not kidding here): Executive Producer, Associate Producer, Line Producer, Timing Director, and Model Mark-ups. As far as the panel was concerned, they didn't know WHAT happened to the animation after the Color Keys were sent overseas. I guess they figure the little Asian animation fairies just wave their magic wands.

During the discussion, the comment was made that the best timing directors were people who have a lot of experience animating. One of the confused students said, "But if all the animation is all going overseas, doesn't that mean that pretty soon all the timing will too?" I think that guy knew more than the rest of the panel.

This industry is going to DIE, my friends, if we are not willing to find a way to WORK ... and stop viewing our employers as "The Enemy." I'm not ready to take on this union, and when there are willing Asian studios (or Chicagoan studios), why would ANYBODY? Fair work for fair wages, my friends. Nothing unfair about it.

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