Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Overtime Thing. Again.

Just got off the phone with a payroll person at one of the larger studios.

The payroll person wanted to know what TAG's stance on "unauthorized overtime" is. I told him that we follow the contract, and I work to keep uncompensated o.t. tamped down, but when people take work home and complete it for free (i.e., not charging overtime), there's little that the Animation Guild can do about it. "I don't go to people's houses and check up on them." ...

But I made sure he understood that:

1) We don't approve or condone people under our jurisdiction doing uncompensated overtime.

2) We let folks know that they shouldn't do uncompensated overtime. (Like, that's why I'm writing this post.)

3) We file grievances against uncompensated overtime (when we can get artists to come to an arbitration to provide supporting evidence.)

4) If studios accept work done during uncompensated overtime, then they are obligated to pay for the work (like, pay the o.t.)

5) Uncompensated overtime has been an issue as long as I've done this job. Every studio, at one time or another, allows it to happen.

And is there a solution?

Well, yeah. The day that employees collectively agree that they're not going to ignore the collective bargaining agreement and knuckle under to studio and peer pressure to "hit the deadline" and do extra work for free, is the day that the problem disappears. Because the studios will, at last, have an accurate idea of how much work their employees can actually do in a forty-hour workweek, and will budget and pay accordingly.

I don't think that reality will arrive soon, but hey. I'm ever hopeful.

7 comments:

Kevin Geiger said...

In 1996, the Walt Disney Feature Animation TDs (non-union at the time), collectively and unanimously stopped working O.T. as a form of protest against "production rate" (an arbitrary and fluctuating form of "compensation" provided to non-union WDFA TDs at the time). In other words, they worked their 40 and went home. Quotas predicated upon the overages were missed, and production managers and producers freaked out. In short order, the TDs were unionized under TAG with full O.T. compensation after 40 hours. Every union TD at Disney and Dreamworks today can thank those 41 trailblazers who were gutsy enough to take a stand in 1996 on the principle of equal pay for equal time. Shows what's possible when you stick together.

Anonymous said...

Just curious--was there any kind of witchhunting from Disney management? As in, trying to find out who the "ringleaders" were, and threats of intimidation?

Anonymous said...

Aaaah yes, I figured a corporate shill would appear spreading fear.

Sthrenght in unity I say!

R.

Steve Hulett said...

Just curious--was there any kind of witchhunting from Disney management? As in, trying to find out who the "ringleaders" were, and threats of intimidation?

Not really. The people that were pushing this were still there years later.

I should add, the folks in the trenches were the ones who propelled this. Just as, nine years later, the people at Film Roman were the point-of-the-spear for organizing "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill."

In both cases, there was no retribution. (This isn't the way it always shakes out, but it certainly did in these two instances.)

As always, it's about leverage. These were employees who had skill sets that gave them a good deal of clout, which is always useful during organizing drives.

Josh said...

Yep, they'll figure out how long it takes and then outsorce to India/China/Korea where it's cheaper and if an artist doesn't do overtime they're fired.

Kevin Geiger said...

> Just curious--was there any kind of
> witchhunting from Disney management?
> As in, trying to find out who the "ringleaders" were, and threats
> of intimidation?

There were four of us "ringleaders", and all of us are gone now. I was the last to depart in 2007, a full 11 years after our collective "job action". Everyone knew who we were, but the TDs had three advantages:

1.) Demand exceeded supply. It was an employees' market. As Steve says, you use leverage when you have it.

2.) We were very good at what we did. The first "ringleader" didn't leave the company until years later.

3.) We weren't stupid enough to do anything illegal, such as an unauthorized strike or walkout. We simply refused to accept the O.T. that was "offered" to us.

Anonymous said...

Yep, they'll figure out how long it takes and then outsorce to India/China/Korea where it's cheaper and if an artist doesn't do overtime they're fired.

As Steve and Kevin made clear, it's been twelve years. If they'd wanted to ship the work -- or if they could -- don't you think they would've by now?

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