Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gerard Salvio, 1926-2008

Gerard Salvio

Cartoonists union activist and officer Gerard Salvio died on June 23 at the age of eighty-two.

After a colorful youth spent as an amateur boxer and athlete, interior designer, upholsterer and construction engineer (he helped build the Throgs Neck Bridge), Salvio worked as an animation cameraman and joined Local 841, the NYC cartoonists' local (the New York union had a broader jurisdiction than ours – in Hollywood the animation camerapersons belong to the camera guild). In 1975 he succeeded Pepe Ruiz to become Local 841's second (and last) business agent.

Tom Sito tells this story in his book Drawing The Line, about the 1982 Hollywood cartoonists' strike:

Even MPSC Local 841 in faraway New York City agreed to stop doing the little bit of Ruby-Spears and Hanna-Barbera subcontract work that it made there. Rick Reinert's LA studio made small educational films and used freelancers in New York … Salvio telephoned animator Nancy Beiman at her Greenwich Village apartment.

Gerard told Nancy bluntly, "You gotta stop working for Reinert!"

Nancy replied, "Why, is he not paying my annuities?"

"No, you're all paid up."

"Then what's the matter?"

"839 is on strike. It's a sister local. You have to go out."

"Gerard, 839 is picketing because they don't want the work sent outside of Los Angeles County. I am in Manhattan. I'd be protesting myself! That do you want me to do, march around my living room hitting myself on the hammer and screaming, ‘I am unfair to me'?"

But Gerard was not amused. He insisted.

For those of us who worked in NYC in the seventies, Gerry Salvio was the first union representative most of us had ever met ... and believe me, he left an indelible impression. Among those who belonged to Local 841 and worked with him (including my mother who was a charter member), there was and is a wide range of opinions about him and his effect on East Coast unionized animation. He sounded and at times behaved like the clichéd dese-dem-and-dose union guy, but no one could question his commitment to his vision of the union.

After Local 841 merged into the camera guild in 1989, Salvio went to work for the IATSE as a Business Representative and trustee of the NYC lab local until his retirement in 1994.

The IATSE's obituary for Salvio can be found on page 70 of the latest IATSE Bulletin which can be found here. He is survived by his wife, three daughters and two granddaughters. His daughter Lenore Hinrichsen published a book about her father which can be found here.

Gerard was a tough labor rep, in a tough part of the business. He once told me when I was a young beardless youth:

Eh, youse animators act like children! Ya'd sell yerselves fer peanuts if I let ya!

I was offended at the time, but sometimes I don't wonder if he wasn't right.

-- Tom Sito


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