The last couple of weeks, the thorny little issue of unpaid overtime has cropped up via members on the phone and members in person (again). No doubt it will in the future.
I'll recap my general take on this problem (again):
Falsifying time records (that's the time cards everybody fills out each week) is a no-no. If you work six hours in a day, you're supposed to put down six hours. If you work ten hours, you're supposed to put down ten. You put down something else than what you worked, you can (potentially) get in trouble.
Despite Federal, State and Union Contract rules about overtime, many people put down 8 hours x 5 workdays = 40 hours no matter how many hours they work in a day or a week. They do this for many reasons, but the main ones are:
1) They're told to. 2) They're ambitious and want to get ahead and curry favor. 3) They think they know what the unspoken rules at the studio are and don't want to "rock the boat," the better to remain employed.
A handful of days ago I had a face-to-face meeting with an employee who said he was sick of working until ten or eleven every night to keep up with the demands of his director. He said the work was done without overtime being paid. I asked if other people on the crew did the same thing. His answer:
"Almost all of them. And they asked me what my problem was, said I should just suck it up and do the work. Stop complaining about it."
I get this from time to time. From employees at a lot of different studios. I always say the same thing:
"I can't stop people from working unpaid overtime if they're bound and determined to do it. But I'm happy to file grievances, walk through the studio late at night, police the problem however I can if somebody wants me to."
"But if somebody takes work home and does it for free, I don't have any good way to stop them."
The artist I talked to decided to do nothing. I said I understood.
This isn't solely a union issue. It's also a federal and state issue. Over the years I've watched artists at non-signator studios allow their employers to violate various laws.
It's kind of a long-simmering, universal problem. Ignorance (sometimes on both sides) fuels some of it. The calculation that violations of the law won't result in negative consequences fuels the rest.
Here are the three sets of work rules that individuals who create entertainment in a signator (union) animation studio work under:
The bottom set of rules are the ones in the collective bargaining agreement.
The middle set of rules are state labor laws (around here, that would be California).
The top set of rules are federal laws, starting with The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
If people want to violate some or all of the above, then they will.
Whether the Federal or State Government, or some labor union, likes it or not.