Friday, April 07, 2006
Today's LA Times has an article by Richard Verrier for which I was interviewed about a week ago. I think it's a solid, straightforward article, and there isn't much I'll quibble with (I do think it's a stretch to call us "blue collar workers"). But as with all such articles, only a fraction of what I have to say on the subject ended up being printed. . . My major point (which I think pretty much does come through) is that, from our standpoint, there is no battle. We think everyone working in animation deserves representation and benefits, and we wish the WGAw every success in organizing animation writers who are currently not working under any labor contract. In fact, in the past Steve and I met with organizers for the WGAw, and for a time we coordinated efforts and shared some information. Since then the Writers Guild took a more aggressive approach towards animation, and chose to end that cooperation. The article reports that TAG and the WGAw "clashed" over organizing Nickelodeon. In fact, when Nick was still nonunion and the Writers Guild made a run at organizing Nick's writers and story artists, the WGA called for an informational picket in front of the studio. We encouraged our members to march in their support, and Steve and I were among the TAG members who carried WGA signs that day. For whatever reason, the WGA never took their case to the National Labor Relations Board, never called for an official vote of the Nick unit, and later walked away from the organizing effort. TAG later got rep cards from Nick employees, took the cards to the NLRB, and negotiated a contract. The employees at Nick spoke, and we listened. The article also mentions a clash over organizing writers on DreamWorks' "Father of the Pride." Again, not really much of a clash. The Animation Guild has had a contract with DreamWorks pretty much from the start of that studio, a contract that covers writers and story artists, so we were surprised when the WGAw leadership at the time tried (unsuccessfully) to steal some of that jurisdiction. There was never any doubt who really had the jurisdiction, so it was really more of a tempest in a teapot. Last year the WGAw elected more activist officers, and their new president (Patric Verrone, a writer who has done extensive work in animation) has made organizing animation writers a top priority. So I guess in some quarters, based on pronouncements by WGAw leaders, it sounds like we're at war with them. Or, rather, that they're at war with us. Whatever. All I can say is that we continue to do the best we can to take care of everyone we represent, that we'll continue to try to organize studios that aren't organized, and we wish our sister unions the best in their efforts.
Posted by Kevin Koch at 12:27 AM