A couple of days ago, I was lunching with a Wise Old Studio Exec who is now happily retired from the studio grind. (He worked at a lot of animation studios in a three-decade career, but he enjoys his new occupation of smelling the roses.)
I mentioned to him that the Animation Guild is now in the middle of its 2007 Wage Survey (see our previous post and survey here), mailing out forms and getting them back. I also mentioned how frustrating it is when people don't return the forms. He said brightly:
"Oh yeah, wage surveys. The last studio I worked for got wage breakdowns for all the big animation studios. It was always good to know what artists were making at all the different houses. Helped keep us from overpaying anybody."
Overpaying anybody. Neato. Wouldn't want to do something awful like that, now would we? What with all the paltry salaries studios execs make.
I'd always known that studios knew what their employees were making, but here was testimony about how they also knew what employees earned at competing studios. (Everything is available...for a fee.)
Which makes it kind of baffling why some artists in the business are still reluctant to share wage information. (Actually, it's not so baffling. Various studios thump out a steady drumbeat of intimidation about not revealing info. Even though Sections 232(a), (b) and (c) of the California Labor Code prohibit employers from requiring as a condition of employment that employees refrain from disclosing wages, forcing employees to sign a waiver of the right to disclose wages, or discharging, disciplining of discriminating against employees who disclose wages.)
But I'm still hopeful that employees will empower themselves, despite the muttered threats around town. And I've reason for hope. To date, TAG has received over 550 surveys from our '07 mailing, and when all of them are tabulated, we'll share the results here and on TAG's web site.