I was over at Nick this afternoon, and this was a topic of conversation:
Parent Company of the popular cable television networks MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon, among others, informed their permanent freelance workers that their benefits will be drastically slashed, just in time for the holidays. Today, Dec. 10th at 3pm, MTV Networks freelancers plan to stage a walkout in response to these cutbacks, outside the MTV building on 1515 Broadway. The contractors have made T-shirts emblazoned with the logo: “Viacom Freelancers Get Cancer Too.”
Strolling through the halls, I quickly found out artists knew of the walkout but weren't sure if they had yet occurred (this was the middle of the afternoon, PST).
I ran into one Nick exec who brought up the unhappiness of the New York employees. I said, "I don't think these cuts were ... ahm ... very well thought out."
He rejoined: "Easy to think that, isn't it?"
... The offense that originally prompted action on their part occurred December 4 when they were instructed to pick up their holiday party invitations. They were then instructed to fill out “additional paperwork,” that was due two days later on Thursday, December 6. This paperwork contained the news that they were no longer entitled to their 401k plans, dental insurance, paid vacation days (of which they had five, and now have 0), holidays, and that the 50-hour workweek would become the norm
When I entered the workforce at the end of the sixties, the landscape was a bit different. I worked a summer in the Disney Studio printshop, and the unionized printers there received double and triple time for extra hours during the week or weekends, none of this time-and-a-half stuff.
And nobody dared to mess with a timecard. We all punched in and punched out. We all got paid promptly. Same thing when I went into Disney's animation story department a decade later. Time clocks, double time and triple time.
One Disney story artist (Pete Young) was dragooned into doing inbetweens on Pete's Dragon, working at his story rate and getting triple time on weekends. "Biggest paychecks I've ever gotten," Pete gloated to me. "And when I was doing the silly-ass inbetweens last Saturday, the head of the division came down and thanked me for helping out."
... “One woman works for MTV and has been in the child adoption process for a year, and it was ready to go, and these new benefits packages don’t meet the requirements. She’s just been walking around the offices in a state of painful disbelief.”
Times change, don't they?