Re: What's this "Union"?

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Posted by Tom Sito on April 11, 2000 at 15:58:25:

In Reply to: What's this "Union"? posted by Steve on April 10, 2000 at 19:26:16:

: Hey gang.

: I've been lurking for awhile now, reading everyone's posts, and I have to ask:

: "Why join the Union?"

: Union guys, don't take this as a slam. It's a legitimate question. As a non-union member (and might I
: add, someone who has no interest in joining [so don't panic, Jon]), I don't understand what the benefits
: are.

: Obviously, they tell you how much you're worth before going into a negotiation, or at least they tell you
: how much the average animator in your position could expect. So it's usefull in that regard. And I imagine
: they offer some form of legal representation for wrongful termination and some medical bennys to boot.

: But what I don't understand is what power they hold over any studio's heads with a 'no strike' clause.
: Granted, I understand why the no strike clause is in effect. Striking is what birthed the Pacific Rim studios.
: If you strike, the work goes overseas. If you don't strike, the work goes overseas. So what's the Union done and/or
: is doing for you that makes it worth paying membership dues? Are they negotiating with studios for contracts or shows to stay in
: the U.S.? Are they lobbying congress to keep our own government funding from going to Nelvana or China? Are they
: presently doing anything at all to further the growth of the animation industry in this country?

: Honestly, I don't know, and I'm asking. As an outsider, I see absolutely no benefit to being a Union member. So can anyone
: here explain it for me?

: And please, no flames. This isn't an anti-union message.


I don't have too much time to answer your questions because I'm writing this inbetween meetings so I'll try to be brief. The reason we have a union is not because of any one goodie like health insurance or 401ks, it's because we as artists laboring under a large corporate structure need the safeguards of a collective voice.
This is why our union was created by the artists of our golden age. The corporate sponsored history books don't tell you that Chuck Jones was a strong union man, that Maurice Noble, Bill Tytla, Art Babbitt beleived in these ideals passionately. My presidency was previously held by Bill Melendez, the director of Charlie Brown Christmas, and our 839 charter was signed by Milt Kahl, Les Clark and John Hench.
Before our union animators worked a 46 hour week for no overtime, NO ONE ever got screen credits and there was no such thing as pensions. Some artists made $20 bux an hour, some made $500. One thing Happy Go Lucky Hstories of Disney don't mention when they boo hoo how Walt was heartbroken by the strike of 1941 was that every artist base salary doubled overnight.
Some say that was okay for 1939 but in our brave new digital world unions are outmoded. Well, all Ican respond is remember what you said about corporate greed. According to Business Week in 1979 for every dollar you amde your CEO made $32, today for every dollar you make your CEO makes $291.
IN the movie the Usual Suspects there's that great line "The Greatest Victory the Devil ever had was convincing the world he didn't exist." As long as there are artists who have a passion to create there will be people who have a passion to use your talent to make themselves rich. Thats why our union is necessarry.Gotta run!


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