Saturday, June 21, 2008

"What About RESIDUALS?"

Here I am again with the repetition ... writing once more about movie industry residuals.

The question comes up, over and over: "How come animation people don't get residuals?"

Actually they do, but the residuals come in a different way and different form than residuals for actors, directors, and most WGA writers ...

For SAG and AFTRA members, WGA members not writing news or daytime animation , and key classifications of the DGA, residuals arrive via check inside an envelope inside a mailbox (or agent's p.o. box).

For IATSE members who participate in the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan, residuals flow through the Health Plan ... and in some years when there's a surplus ... the Pension Plan*..

Last year, the IATSE collected $371 million in residuals, all of which flowed to participants of the MPIPHP, because every dime of that money went to underwrite health coverage offered by the Plan. This residual money allows Plan participants to receive a fairly generous array of medical benefits without co-pays (unlike SAG, WGA, and DGA where residual money flows -- fot the most part -- straight into individual members' pockets).

Hollywood's guilds and unions began proposing residuals to resistant companies back in the 1940s (the Screen Cartoonists Guild, our predecessor, proposed them in 1943). The IATSE started receiving residuals shortly after SAG and the WGA struck to get them in 1960, because the movie industry lives under the "pattern bargaining," rule: If one union or guild gets a percentage of the action, the others get it too.

The formulas are slightly different from union to union, but the pattern is the same. When the DGA or WGA receive a slice of television, dvds, or New Media, AFTRA, SAG and the IATSE get the same thing.

But, as stated above, there are sizable differences in the way those slices are distributed, and complaints arise from that. For instance, to receive the benefit of residuals, you have to be an active, qualified participant in the Motion Picture Industry Health and Pension Plan. You could have worked, say, on a film two years back for which residuals are still being received by the Plan, but because you aren't currently an active participant, you don't get any benefit from those residuals.

Sucky, but that's the way the system was set up back in the early 1960s. The IATSE and the studios opted, for their own reasons, not to track and then mail 40,000 small residual payments to 40,000 different IA film workers.

And I'll be honest. It rankles some IA members that residuals are deployed in such a broad, egalitarian type system to start with. "I contributed way more to that film than Harry, but I get the same exact benny that Harry does! That isn't fair!"

Maybe not. But "unfair" is often in the eye of the aggrieved party. Who knows? Under-contributing Harry might think the deal is completely fair.

*Up through 2001, there was $40-$50 million in residuals each year that weren't needed to fund the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan. This money was allocated into active participants' Individual Account Plans. Allocations were calculated based on 1) a participant's total number of qualified pension years and 2) the total number of contribution hours the participant had in that particular year.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

We don't get residuals because the union feels it knows better how to spend our own money than we do.

The union thrives on the self-perpetuating falsehood that without them we would be subject to all manner of horrors by the big, mean corporate monsters.

Of course, you can always choose to only work in smaller, non-union shops - but then you'd better get used to long periods of unemployment and be prepared to settle for lower wages.

So if you want to make halfway decent money, you've got to work at a union shop and thus feed into their obsolete bureaucracy. It's sort of like the mob, but legal and steeped in self-righteousness.

Steve Hulett said...

Self-righteous how?

hoopcooper said...

The Mob hasn't been a part of IATSE since the thirties, so I'd stop whining. And anyone who's in a union and looking at a pension should be dancing in the streets.

If TAG members don't feel the pension fits their work-style in the modern world, that's a separate discussion. Many years ago, the Cartoonists' Union threw their fortunes in with a large very diverse group of craft people. This has given them power far beyond what they would have had alone. But it also means they're painted with the same broad brush.

The benefits and structure of the WGA and SAG contracts are specfic to their style of working: a system that works for transient, freelance workers. Health Care and pension vesting vesting based on income...wherever it's earned.

IA has had to figure out an equitable way to protect thousands of different workers making different contributions. All vital, all specific, and most often paid by the hour and traditionally working the bulk of their career at a single studio. The IA pension and health decisions are based on that...the needs of the vast majority. And it works...

Maybe artists' careers are beginning to resemble writers'. Maybe we're seeing more freelancing. More bouncing from studio to studio. And ideally, more recognition for the work. But Cartoon workers are members of IA. If that doesn't seem to fit, that's a separate and significant discussion that you better think hard about.

But discussing the differences between what a bunch of lefty writers created for themselves and the economic necessities of a large craft union of predominantly hourly workers with longer term studio relationships just isn't worth having.

That said, is it true what I read in another post comment? If a TAG member works, as an example, three 2 month gigs and three different union studios, does that count differently toward vesting in the pension than six solid months at one union studio?

Steve Hulett said...

Many years ago, the Cartoonists' Union threw their fortunes in with a large very diverse group of craft people.

Not exactly how it went down. The Screen Cartoonists Guild, originally part of the Conference of Studio Unions and an orphan union after a 1945 jurisdiction dispute, found itself in 1951 on the losing end of a 1951 industry wide election for jusrisdiction of the animation industry.

It's rival? Why, good old Local 839, created by the IATSE, Walt Disney, and many of the Nine Old Men (among others).

Disclaimer: I wasn't involved in the '45 dustup (hadn't been born at the time) nor the '51 election (two years old at the time).

Contrary to reports.

Steve Hulett said...

If a TAG member works, as an example, three 2 month gigs and three different union studios, does that count differently toward vesting in the pension than six solid months at one union studio?


Nope. Exactly the same. All contribution hours would flow into the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plan.

hoopcooper said...

So the orphaned Cartoonists (not a union but a group of creative employees) saw decided to throw their fortunes in with the IA created 839.

The point is that from that time on, the creative contributors to animation decided to be represented by IA.

Is that a more correct statement?

It's all about Ol' Roy Brewer, isn't it?

hoop

Steve Hulett said...

Your second statement, more correct.

Actually, the Screen Cartoonists continued to limp along, repping animation commercial houses, until 1961. It was then absorbed into the Teamsters Union. Bill Melendez Prods was the last studio with the Teamsters. (Bill had walked out at Disney during the '41 strike, and been the last President of the Screen Cartoonists Guild in 1951, prior to the industry election.)

His studio is still around, although Bill is something within hailing distance of ninety.

And right, the principal mischief maker was the wondrous and amazing Roy Brewer, insane right to the end. Brewer was still defending IA President Brown, the man who helped place the IA under mob rule, at IA conventions into the 1980s. He also blamed communists for the Challenger space shuttle disaster.

Happily, we've moved on from the commies and today focus on the feared and very dangerous islamo-fascists.

If it ain't one enemy threatening our American way of life, it's another.

hoopcooper said...

I love that you know about the challenger. I had a friend who wrote about Brewer and got to interview him in the 80's...right after his friend Ronald Reagan brought him in to brief the joint chiefs of staff on the metal weakening ray that the Commies used to blow up the shuttle.

Sure would have liked to be a fly on the wall.

That's good news and clarification about the pension vesting/bouncing around studios. The other post comment led me to believe that wasn't true. Good to know.

The point here for you and me, is that cartoonists workers in their myriad forms are represented by IA. And for me, the point is that it's a very hazy line to try to draw between one creative contribution and another. Despite my long association and great love for the WGA. In most of the studios we're working in...it's silly and destructive to try to draw distinctions between the contributions of writers, directors/board artists/character designers et al.

At those fox prime time shows, where the script is locked (for better or worse) before an artist ever sees it...I understand. But the worst thing you can do on a cartoon is separate the artist and the writer...I worked at a studio (non union) where they did that on purpose!

Poor Roy Brewer, in our world of warrantless wiretaps and no habeas corpus, he'd be in heaven.

Anonymous said...

The union thrives on the self-perpetuating falsehood that without them we would be subject to all manner of horrors by the big, mean corporate monsters.

Of course, you can always choose to only work in smaller, non-union shops - but then you'd better get used to long periods of unemployment and be prepared to settle for lower wages.


Waaaa, waaaa, waaaaa. Poor baby. So the mean old union is only there to steal your money and serve themselves? Then working non-union should be heavenly. And as you say, except for the crap wages, crap benefits, and fly-by-night operators, it is, right?

Kevin said...

Residuals work the way the do in animation not because the Animation Guild thinks it knows better. It's the way it is because that's what was negotiated between the IATSE and the producers almost 50 years ago.

These things aren't decided by one side, nor are they decided in a vacuum. The WGA didn't get the deal they wanted on residuals for DVDs nor for new media in their latest negotiations (or in any of their negotiations since those things have been a reality). Was that because the WGA leaders are self-rightous, self-serving, double-dealing tools? No, it's because they had to come to an agreement with the producers, and it had to be an agreement that was consistent with what the producers were also willing to give the other unions.

The Animation Guild is run by members, to serve the needs of members. The residual deal that was negotiated way back when doesn't enrich the TAG coffers one bit. What it does enrich is the benefits package that members receive.

I know it rankles some people that unions operate as a group to make decisions for their members. Unfortunately, the only alternative, as you point out yourself, is to let the employer make all those decisions for you, with the obvious results.

Kevin said...

Hoopcooper wrote: The benefits and structure of the WGA and SAG contracts are specfic to their style of working: a system that works for transient, freelance workers. Health Care and pension vesting vesting based on income...wherever it's earned.

The TAG (and west coast IA locals) benefits work the same way, though it would be more correct to say vesting is based on hours/years worked. Regardless, the underlying idea is the same, in which work at ANY union studio contributes to the benefits package. The key beauty of benefits through SAG, WGA, DGA, or the Animation Guild are that they're portable across union studios.

IA has had to figure out an equitable way to protect thousands of different workers making different contributions. All vital, all specific, and most often paid by the hour and traditionally working the bulk of their career at a single studio.

Actually, single-employer stability is as rare for IA workers as it is for writers or actors. Always has been.

Maybe artists' careers are beginning to resemble writers'. Maybe we're seeing more freelancing. More bouncing from studio to studio.

Like I said, except for the very rare (but high profile) examples of a small core of people at Disney, animation professionals have always been in that exact situation.

hoopcooper said...

I stand corrected. I appreciate it.
The WGA is income based, not hour based. And there is a difference, right?

hoopcooper said...

I'm just pointing out that for a writer, who can make his pension/health year on a single script. My experience with my Cartoonist's union job is that regardless of the pay, I need to put in the appropriate hours. I'm not saying either is unfair or better, just that they have been specifically designed for the needs of their workforce.

Anonymous Coward said...

Questions-

I believe the WGA and SAG and DGA have departments that handle residuals, so they can track when something is first run, if it re-runs, in syndication, internationally, on airplanes, on DVD, the internet, etc. And then they make the studios scratch out another residual check that goes directly to the members. The more successful the project, the more money directly into the pockets of their members.

1. Does TAG/IATSE have something that tracks run-based residuals and re-use? If a project is more successful, does IATSE get more? Or does IATSE get a flat residual buy-out regardless of the fortunes of the project?

2. Has there ever been any discussion of modifying residuals to allow the payments to go directly to the members, in lieu of the nicer pension & health? I assume most TAG members would rather do that (especially when we see how much the studios are making off animation), but would IATSE or the studios balk at that?

I'll take your answer off the air. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

One of the real differences between writing under WGA or 839 contracts is that a WGA writer can write one movie or work on one TV show and if it's a big hit or the TV show goes into a big syndication deal he can continue to see benefits from that for quite some time (especially if he had a smart agent) even if that's all he had in him even and he never gets lucky again. If that were the same with an 839 writer he might not even see the benefits of the pension or the medical plan.

THAT'S the main reason why most writers would rather be WGA and not 839 - not so they can hobnob at parties with James Brooks as someone else suggested.

Kevin Koch said...

For writers and TV board artists, the pension and health "hours" are based on show length, so it's actually not so dissimilar (though a single script won't cover you for a year).

If you write both the synopsis/outline and screenplay of a half-hour subject, you'd get 300 hours credit. If you were already qualified for the health plan, that would give you an additional 6 months coverage. And it would put you 100 hours of having a qualified pension year.

For comparison, the storyboard artist on that half-hour show gets 75 hours credit (assuming they're also working in the unit rate system).

For further comparison, the synopsis/outline of a 7-15 minute subject is worth 35 hours and the screenplay another 115 hours (the storyboard artist in this case gets 38 hours for just the boards).

So if a writer does the outline and script of a half-hour show and a 7-15 minute show, they'll have a qualified pension year.

Kevin Koch said...

Last sentence of second paragraph:

"And it would put you 100 hours short of having a qualified pension year."

Kevin Koch said...

Anon wrote: a WGA writer can write one movie or work on one TV show and if it's a big hit or the TV show goes into a big syndication deal he can continue to see benefits from that for quite some time (especially if he had a smart agent) even if that's all he had in him even and he never gets lucky again.

I'm reacting to the phrase "(especially if he had a smart agent)." What you're saying is, if the writer's agent negotiates a sweet deal that is significantly above the minimums of the WGA CBA then that writer may be set for life. This is true. But that particular writer isn't set for life because he or she wrote under a WGA contract, but because they had a special deal that they negotiated above and beyond anything in the WGA contract.

Realize that there are animation professionals who also use agents and who also negotiate for sweet deals that are significantly better than the TAG CBA. A few have become extremely wealthy, even set for life after a relatively short period of work.

Comparing the standard WGA live-action television writing deal with a TAG animation writing deal (which is likely for a cable show with an overall budget that is a small fraction of that typical WGA live-action show) is already comparing apples to oranges. But if you're also going to also count what smart agents get for some WGA clients, then the comparison becomes strained beyond being meaningful.

Kevin Koch said...

Anonymous Coward wrote:
1. Does TAG/IATSE have something that tracks run-based residuals and re-use? If a project is more successful, does IATSE get more?

Yes and yes. TAG (like the other IA locals) isn't involved in that tracking, but the more residuals our projects generate, the more money flows into our benefits plans.

Or does IATSE get a flat residual buy-out regardless of the fortunes of the project?

As above, the more success the project has, the more money flows into the benefits plans.

2. Has there ever been any discussion of modifying residuals to allow the payments to go directly to the members, in lieu of the nicer pension & health? I assume most TAG members would rather do that (especially when we see how much the studios are making off animation), but would IATSE or the studios balk at that?

Yes, it's been brought up many times, in many contexts, by different groups who each think they deserve more. But there's a problem that no one has solved (aside from getting the AMPTP to agree to it). You write that you assume most TAG members would rather get individual checks instead of good benefits. I think you're wrong.

Let's consider how those individual residual checks would be generated. One system would be to treat everyone exactly equally, and issue checks based on how many hours each person worked on each project. It wouldn't matter if you were a character animator, a writer, a board artist, or a checker, a clean-up artist, an assistant lighting TD, level 5 modeler, apprentice, etc. You could modify this a bit, and also factor in each person's salary classification, so an apprentice wouldn't get as much as a level 1 worker in the same area, but each person's hourly contribution to the project would still be a major factor.

The result would be thousands of tiny checks, few of which would likely have a meaningful impact on people's lives, and which likely wouldn't make up for how much more the health benefits would suddenly cost. It would be a share-and-share-alike system in which the cost of tracking thousands of individuals and generating and mailing tens of thousands of checks would would make it a joke.

Another system would be for those individual residual checks to be divvied up in a way that approximates what happens in live action. I kind of like that system.

Someone like me (a feature film character animator) would make out like a bandit. I was one of a handful of character animators on Shrek 2 and Madagascar and Over the Hedge. In this model it's logical for character animators, who create the physical performances of the virtual actors, to get residuals like live actors get. So I'd still be getting nice checks as those extremely successful films continue to make money.

Animation directors, writers, story artists, character designers would also be able to claim major chunks of those residuals in this model. And all the animation professionals who aren't in those "creative" classifications? Which is the majority of TAG's membership? They'd be getting the left-overs -- teeny tiny little residual checks that would hardly be worth cashing.

I've never seen anyone propose a revised system for distributing the residuals money that wouldn't have a lot of TAG members screaming bloody murder.

Now, if we could find a way to get the AMPTP to leave the current system in place (lots of residuals money that go into our benefits), and on top of that to give ADDITIONAL residuals money to writers/directors/story artists/animators/designers, then we might be in business. . .

Anonymous said...

I'm reacting to the phrase "(especially if he had a smart agent)." What you're saying is, if the writer's agent negotiates a sweet deal that is significantly above the minimums of the WGA CBA then that writer may be set for life. This is true. But that particular writer isn't set for life because he or she wrote under a WGA contract, but because they had a special deal that they negotiated above and beyond anything in the WGA contract.


BUT what you're ignoring is the fact that because of the way the WGA basic contract is setup it allows that writer with a smart agent not to get laughed out og the room if they should suggest a higher residual payment or points or whatever whereas because of the way 839's contract is setup it would be unlikely someone to come in and not get laughed out of the room.

I'd be curious to know if any of these 839 memebers that have become extremely wealthy have negotiated their deals since the crash of the sweet deals with signing bonuses.

I don't get why writing for live-action sit-com as opposed to writing for animation sit-com is 'comparing apples to oranges' - just because the budgets are different (which sometimes isn't true at all).
Anyway, all I'm pointing out is there seems to be a VERY clear reason why TAG writers would prefer to be WGA writers.

hoopcooper said...

Apples to Oranges:

Defined in this context. As a writer in a live action show, I carry a fair amount of weight. I already have a deal to get paid down the line. But so has the director and the actors involved.

In animation, the idea and the stories increasingly begin exclusively with me and my department. But should I expect downstream residuals when the director and the board artists don't get them? And what about the character designer? His contribution is as great as anyones.

When a new prime time show brings in a bunch of WGA guys and tells them to write the next emmy winning cartoon...they have the right to ask for a guild contract. They can also turn the job down. The Simpsons has a great and talented group of folks writing, two of whom I know came out of animation. But for the bulk of the IA work, I don't want to be the guy who says writers deserve something the directors and everyone else isn't getting.

bottom line...if you want ALL the folks covered by TAG to have a system that differs from the IA deal that works so well for the majority of the union, all you have to do is stand up, walk out and make it happen. But you're going to have to do it together, and those IA guys are bigger and meaner than the average Board Artist. So, quit trying to compare one system to the other. If you want it you can have it, but it's got to apply to everyone who contributes...and even then, to quote Paul Anderson..."there will be blood."

Anonymous Coward said...

Thanks for the in-depth explanation, Kevin. Much appreciated.

Steve said...

Did my own breakdown here:

Comparing Apples and Oranges?

Here's some of the post:

So, I'm not the biggest fan of how IA/TAG handles writers within it's fold. No big secret there.

But for very good reasons, I've had to do some digging into something I think IA gets right for writers - Health care.

Steve H - You'll be better at the math than I am, but here's my guestimation.

If I writer writes one half hour of material - they are paid 7500 and clock in at 300 hours. That is enough to qualify them for health care for six months. That means someone making 15K per year can get health and pension. Do that fifteen years, and you get health care for life. (I don't know what the "for life" plan is for the WGA).

So now, I want to do some math. I am intentionally NOT differentiating between animation and live action, and I am rooting all of this in the basic cable world, because that's what I know.

Animation writer
One half hour: 7.5K
No additional monies. Ever.
Healthcare: Triggered for six months upon completion of script, 300 hours of pension and health credited.

Basic Cable Live action writer
One half hour script: 12K
Reruns ONCE: 6K more.
Total with 12 runs (since that's where the math stops changing): 21K (ish)
Health care: Triggered at 31K

Head expoloding yet?

So here's what it boils down to:
You write two scripts a year, you get health with both.
With IA/TAG - You make 15K, and that's it.
With WGA - You make 42K, with the potential to make more.

So here are the questions every writer asks when they think of this stuff:

Is an IA writer compensated higher in credited hours for work than others in the union? (300 hours for one script? I would say yes.)
Is there a difference between the two if there are no reruns? (Yes. 4.5k)
Could a writer take that 27K and buy their own health plan for their family? (Maybe. Depends on health, I suppose.)
Does a writer qualify for health care in IA faster than the WGA? (Sorta)

Steve Hulett said...

because of the way the WGA basic contract is setup it allows that writer with a smart agent not to get laughed out og the room if they should suggest a higher residual payment or points or whatever whereas because of the way 839's contract is setup it would be unlikely someone to come in and not get laughed out of the room.

Depends on who it is. If DreamWorks, say, wants a high-priced live-action feature writer to come in and work, they have to play from the feature writer's deck.

If not, not.

You're right about the underlying agreements of TAG and WGA being substantially different, but this is -- as I've said before -- a circumstance of jurisdictional divisions seventy years back, and the different bargaining histories.

For unionized live-action writers, there's been pretty much a straight line from the Screen Writers Guild to the Writers Guild of America west/east.

For animation writers/story persons, there has been the Screen Cartoonists Guild, then a jurisdictional fight, then a new union under the IA 56 years ago.

And then, when more writers who weren't storyboard artists came into the mix, another jurisdictional tussle.

hoopcooper said...

Steve!

Heroic and clear work especially for a hot day. I agree with you completely that there's something closer to parity than you find in most of the world. Writers in live action who work steadily, look forward to green envelopes during downtimes. But IA is a different union and the business of Cartoons is a different business.

I just wish my animation work (a majority of my credits) counted toward the pension I'm already vested in. But it doesn't. That doesn't mean the IA deal doesn't beat the holy hell out of what I was getting at non-union studios. That should be the discussion here. That should be where any anger and energy is devoted.

Bless you for lining it out so well, I hope that quiets things...

Let's talk about eyelines for a while, can we?

Steve said...

Well, don't take it that I'm happy and content with the way things are run, when it comes to writers.

I wish there was some sort of math that I - as a writer - could use to put my IA writing hours into my WGA account. Even if they counted for less, like the difference between Southwest Airlines miles and American Airlines miles, I'd feel a hell of a lot better about it if it was my choice.

And I would like it if IA and the WGA had a better relationship when it came to the things they share - writers - than they do.

The above is a much larger debate.

Steve Hulett said...

Animation writer
One half hour: 7.5K
No additional monies. Ever.
Healthcare: Triggered for six months upon completion of script, 300 hours of pension and health credited.

Basic Cable Live action writer
One half hour script: 12K
Reruns ONCE: 6K more.
Total with 12 runs (since that's where the math stops changing): 21K (ish)
Health care: Triggered at 31K


Okay, so if you write a live action with script w/ one rerun, you don't get health care? Because you haven't reached the 31k threshold?

What I know about animation, if you are not new into the plan, one half-hour script that includes synopsis and outline will get you six months of health care. (300 hours).

If a newbie, it'll take two half-hours with synopsis/outline (600 hours).

But this deal is always going to be apples and oranges. One is hours based, one is wage based.

Bargaining history and historical jurisdictional lines tell the tale.

Anonymous said...

In animation, the idea and the stories increasingly begin exclusively with me and my department.

This was written by a writer who's never been near feature animation, that's for sure.

hoopcooper said...

anonymous...

you're absolutely right. I'm talking about TV.

Steve said...

Steve -

And my point is this:

With a very small group of people - writers who write for both - IA is a block toward more in pocket money, more pension... more.

If the Sit Down / Shut Up writers can be covered under the WGA agreement, and they have the ability to make that happen, they should be cheered, not resented.

And if that happens, IA/TAG should take notice, and see if there's a way to up the minimums that story people within their union are compensated.

But you're right - TAG is a great place for new writers to find themselves with health and benefits, very quickly. Even via freelance.

But when writing becomes more of a career than a periodic quick hit, I think it changes the sheen on the deal. They rerun the CRAP out of cartoons.

So... How do the residuals work in kids' animation? My $7500 / 300 hour script. Lets say it's rerun 12 times. What has the union collected on it? Same percentages?

If that's true, there are $5775.00 in additional payments (12 airings) that I personally do not see.. in return for health care and pension.

With two scripts, That's 11.5K in a year more in my pocket. I would have had heath, benefits AND cash.

I don't know if this is apples and oranges or apples and apples.

In a world of hours, how does it work?

I am asking because the more I learn, the less "unequal" it seems, unless you are someone who does the same thing - script writing - within two different unions.

And, quite frankly, the more I know, the less unfair it seems to me. But that doesn't mean it's completely fair.

(Please don't go into your "there is no fair" discussion. I get it.)

Still - I'm mostly curious about the numbers, because that's what it really boils down to.

Anonymous said...

"This was written by a writer who's never been near feature animation, that's for sure."

...or television animation.

Steve said...

No, anonymous #31, you're incorrect.

SOME animation productions, even ones not in Prime Time, go top down from the writing EP's. Every one I've been on, actually, except for "Cow and Chicken."

If you want to complain about that, and have a "save the animation world" discussion, there's probably a million threads where that holds true.

This has been a pretty heady, calm discussion about the business of residuals. Can we table the petulance for another thread?

I'm still waiting for Steve H. to come back with the Health and Pension numbers to figure out if the 3 hours I spent calculating this stuff (Seriously! What is WRONG with me?) is correct...

Steve Hulett said...

I'm still waiting for Steve H. to come back with the Health and Pension numbers to figure out if the 3 hours I spent calculating this stuff (Seriously! What is WRONG with me?) is correct...


Not sure what you're driving at here, Mr. Marmel. But I think it's fine ...

It takes two half-hour scripts (including synopsis and outline) to get health coverage for a first-timer.

That's 600 hours, and would also earn you a qualified pension year and vestment in the IAP Pension Plan.

You wrote two half-hour scripts a year for five years (wouldn't have to be consecutive after the first two twelve-months), you'd be vested in the Motion Picture Industry Defined Benefit Plan. AND you'd have year-round health care.

You could argue that you're not making as much money as with two half-hour live action cable scripts, and you'd be right. But you would be guaranteed health coverage (something, if I read your post right, the live action stuff wouldn't necessarily do) AND you'd be vested in both pensions. Whether it's "fair" or not, it's earning more pension and health benefits than almost any other IA member gets in the same amount of work-time.

So ... not awful, by any means. Just look at those poor, struggling porn writers that nobody is organizing.

"Hey! My Darlene Does Des Moines, Volume XI was a huge seller! HUGE! Where the hell are MY residuals!"

Anonymous said...

"This has been a pretty heady, calm discussion about the business of residuals."

Just wanted to point out that "heady" means the opposite of what you seem to think it means. Just sayin'.

Steve Hulett said...

Please don't go into your "there is no fair" discussion. I get it.)

Steve M., when you keep posting comments about the disparities between one unionized writing job vs. another (which is fine with me, by the way), there is the barely concealed subtext that this just isn't "right."

In other words, unfair.

And so I keep bringing the "fair, unfair" thingie up, and how I don't buy it, don't believe in it.

Thanks for reading.

Steve said...

Fair enough. :)

hoopcooper said...

I'm with the Steve's,

Hours/Wages Residuals/Healthcare...in the end it's kind of sick and embarrassing that a bunch of people who have what much of the country is being denied is arguing about how they should get it.

How 'bout we organize non union studios...get those numbers up and worry about the rest later.

Steve said...

"How 'bout we organize non union studios...get those numbers up and worry about the rest later."

Ah, but therein lies the rub. As a writer, who would you rather see organize those studios.

LOOK OUT! HE JUST TOSSED A GRENADE!

Kevin Koch said...

As we all know, there's nothing stopping the WGA from organizing the writers on those shows. And, since virtually all the writers (apparently) would rather organize under the WGA, and since organizing a tiny writing staff is a lot more straightforward than organizing an entire studio, it should be a lot of slam dunks out there, right? Right?

It's curious then that that particular grenade has generally been a dud.

Steve said...

Considering the weather, Kevin, I'm actually sort of glad you're raining on things today.

:) <--- placed in the comment box so as to make the point that I am not taking this particular comment too seriously.

hoopcooper said...

I know! I vote for the union with free ice water.

hoopcooper said...

http://www.unionice.com/

they got my vote.

Steve Hulett said...

Remember, I'm agnostic. If TAG gets the cards, we work to get to a deal.

If the WGA gets the cards, the WGA works to get to a deal.

It's always difficult to reach a contract, under the best of conditions.

Anonymous said...

"Happily, we've moved on from the commies and today focus on the feared and very dangerous islamo-fascists.
If it ain't one enemy threatening our American way of life, it's another."

I'm not sure if you were trying to sound sarcastic or not, but if you were being sarcastic then your ignorance is thick enough to cut with a knife.

You don't need to be a paranoid alarmist to realize that communism WAS a threat and islamo-fascism IS a very real threat.

But I forget, I'm addressing a union anti-capitalist here so the benefit of the doubt will always go in every direction except America.

Anonymous said...

"Waaaa, waaaa, waaaaa. Poor baby. So the mean old union is only there to steal your money and serve themselves? Then working non-union should be heavenly. And as you say, except for the crap wages, crap benefits, and fly-by-night operators, it is, right?"

The bigger studios don't pay better because the union forces them to. They pay better because of supply-and-demand. I realize that basic economics is lost on everyone these days, but try to keep up anyway.

hoopcooper said...

Anonymous #45,

The studios with union contracts pay more (when you include P&H) than studios without contracts, regardless of size. Adam Smith's invisible hand is firmly in his pocket on this one.

My personal experience has been that non-union studios are actually paying less in some cased than they were ten years ago.

But it was a point worth making...even if in this case it doesn't apply.

Steve Hulett said...

You don't need to be a paranoid alarmist to realize that communism WAS a threat and islamo-fascism IS a very real threat.

Sure you do.

Communism was doomed to fail with that economic model, and did.

I served in uniform against the commie menace. What the hell did YOU do?

But I forget, I'm addressing a union anti-capitalist here so the benefit of the doubt will always go in every direction except America.

Ah, mais non, mon ami. You're talking to a veteran and patriot who gave over two years of his life to serve his country.

And I've done okay in the capitalist system. Nice house, kids I'm proud of, one wife (unlike the adulterous Senator McCain), and a car with four tires.

The trouble with you right-wing loons is your heads are buried so deep in your large intestines that you wouldn't know what reality was if it fell on you.

Anonymous said...

Wow... compelling arguments. Lots of anecdotal evidence and name-calling.

I'm grateful to anyone who has served this country and I will always be the first to offer up my thanks - but your "patriotism" becomes a little smeared when you talk about your service as if it is proof that our government is evil and corrupt. And don't deny that you've used that subtle implication more than once.

And I disagree that communism was doomed to fail because of its economic structure... China still operates under a model of communism and they don't seem ready to change any time quickly.

And if you readily admit that you've done well under a capitalist system, why are you part of an organization that works AGAINST that system (and it does)? It just makes no sense.

The trouble with you left-wing babies is that you're so steeped in what you perceive to be your intellectual and moral superiority that you've fooled yourselves you forget that the universe doesn't revolve around your perceptions of "fair" and "righteous". (which I will admit Bible-thumping republicans do as well, but I don't associate them with true conservatives)

Steve Hulett said...

China still operates under a model of communism and they don't seem ready to change any time quickly.

Actually, China has turned into Franco's Spain.

But I'll happily stipulate that mainland China is still Red if it'll make you happy ... and growing ever more powerful with the help of American corporations eager to help it along.

As is the American government, who has sold the Chinese Communists hundreds of billions of dollars worth of U.S. Government bonds, the better for the commies to gain power over us. (Thank you, George W. Bush!)

In my Republican youth, when Dwight David Eisenhower, the greatest President in my lifetime, made China a pariah, it didn't have this power and influence.

All that has now changed, of course. And Dubya deserves the lion's share of the credit.

Anonymous said...

I guess you're more interested in expressing your emotional hatred for Bush than debating political philosophy.
Which is fine, but I'm simply not interested in it. Hearing people paint Bush as Satan has gotten really, really, really boring.

But then, if you weren't so bitter you'd probably be a conservative, so I should just give up on trying to get you to actually debate.

Anonymous said...

"Hearing people paint Bush as Satan has gotten really, really, really boring."

How insulting to Satan.I doubt anyone would assume he's bright enough to be Satan. But then who knowws how samrt you are considering it sounds like you're part of the 22% that still thinks W and his cronies actually aren't bad for the world.

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