Re: What's this "Union"?

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Posted by Bob on April 11, 2000 at 23:04:20:

In Reply to: Re: What's this "Union"? posted by Bruce on April 11, 2000 at 09:48:06:

: : My understanding is that the MPSCG Local 809 started around the 40's or 50's, as a result of managerial greed. Animators had been basically working for love and discovery up till then - they had been a part of a very exciting movement in America that brought animation out of the Stone Age - but during that Golden Age, they saw (or were shown) the money the studios were making off of their efforts, and they felt they should get a piece of that action. I believe they struck Disney first - as an animator/owner, he was heart-broken, but eventually they came to terms.

: That's Local 839, and what you've written is a somewhat fractured version of the animation labor movement's history here that barely reflects what was actually thought and felt at the time -- on both sides. That history is available if you're interested, but the fact is, it has little bearing on the current situation. The seeds of our situation were planted in the 80's and 90's, and have more to do with what animators chose to do (or chose NOT to do) in relations with the big media conglomerates that swallowed up our business during that period.

: : That same mentality - "we want a piece of the action" - has probably replaced the love and discovery.

: If "we want a piece of the action" had truly replaced the love of animation, animators would be getting residuals right now. Animators would have demanded that their representatives negotiate it. The Union isn't some outside organization that rules the working lives of animators against their will; it's made up of people just like yourself who feel that they can speak more persuasively with a voice that is unified than they can individually.

: :But coming to terms with today's economy almost requires a whole new approach ... I think. I kind of LIKE the non-business aspect of animation.

: Most animators would agree with you about the part of the process they like, but somebody has to take care of business. The trouble lies, as Charles has pointed out, with the businesspeople who have been taking care of the business of animation (and doing such a wonderful job of it.) The Union isn't in the animation business; it's in the negotiation and oversight business.

: : Unions work to guarantee good wages for non-professionals.

: What? Who are these non-professionals the Union is working for? And if they're not being paid (after all, it isn't their profession!) what sort of wages are being guaranteed?

: :They would probably say they work on animators' behalf to mind the business aspect of the work, so animators can be free to enjoy the art of their work.

: No, the Union works to insure minimums in salary levels (levels at which almost no "professionals" are currently working -- thanks in part to the intervention of lawyers and agents in the negotiations, working salaries are much higher than the minimums.) They work to insure the continuity of benefits and to protect the rights of their members under the negotiated agreements.
: :If that's the case, they probably need to totally rethink what they're doing, because the industry in the 40's bears almost no resemblance to the industry in the 21st century.

: Since the Union is essentially a group of people working in the animation business, like you and me and many of the other people on this Board, I'd say it's up to US to rethink what we're doing. "They' are not going to do it for us.

: By the way, it was a grassroots movement within the Union that organized the KCET picket you've been promoting. It was animators, acting in a unified way, taking a stand and letting their voices be heard in concert. It may or may not do any good, but it's a start.

M.P.S.C. Local 839 presents its history beginning here:

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